From the Heart of ... our team...

 9th Sep 2020 |  From The Heart Of... |  Margaret Ring

We are so happy to bring a new series of stories - From the Heart of...

Through this collection of stories, we want to take you to the centre of Secret Projects, right to our heart to discover what drives us as we journey towards our vision of of a world where all women have the confidence and resources to make choices, thrive and contribute to the strengthening of their communities.

What keeps us going? What joy and love do we encounter on the way to womens' empowerment? Read on as we begin, over the coming weeks, with our team - a group of committed and wonderful individuals who really are at the heart of Secret Projects...

We start with our Communications Manager, Margaret Ring... we asked her a number of questions about her Secret Projects life and her home life - here is what she has to say!

Question: In a nutshell what does your role at Secret Projects consist of?

Margaret: It's a fabulous role and I am not just saying that for PR reasons!!! I basically oversee our communications, from social media, our newsletters, brand guidelines to our website. I work closely with our Directors, which is great and I am learning so much. A large part of my role is to weave  our latest news into wonderful stories and send them out into the world to spread the story of Secret Projects to a wider and wider audience... and what's not to love about a job where much time is spent writing stories!


Question: Is there a typical day in you role? What does it look like?

Margaret: My role is so varied, fast paced and exciting that there isn't really a typical day and I absolutely love that!  No room for getting bored! I do have tasks that I need to complete each month such as getting With Heart our monthly newsletter pulled together and posts for Social Media, but I go with the flow and as a team we all 'jump on' what is our priority. I begin my day by catching up on emails and messages via our various 'Whatsapp' groups and then I see what is needed next...

Question: What did you do before Secret Projects?

Margaret: I have worked in the charity sector for many years now. I spent 14 years as a Volunteer and Project Manager at Voluntary Service Overseas, sending medical volunteers  around the world, to share their skills and help marginalised communities. My last position before joining Secret Projects was as a Project Manager and Fundraiser for a small charity, Adventure Ashram. A fantastic organisation that works hard to provide funds for small grass roots NGO's in India and this is where my deep love for India sprang from. It's also where I met Fritha, our CEO!

Question: How does your role at Secret Projects empower you?

Margaret: In so, so many ways! As part of a small team, we all need to be able to turn our hands to tasks that we might not have much experience in. I find this both thrilling and nerve-wracking at the same time! It feels amazingly empowering when I have learned something new to help me work smarter and to add to my repertoire! I love the way the Directors allow me to take on new areas for my self development and actively encourage the team to develop new skills. That is so empowering!

Question: What do you find most fulfilling about working at Secret Projects?

Margaret: I think it's the impact that we make within our Maker Groups, as the women earn an income to support themselves and their families. Our Makers don't want hand-outs, but to be given an opportunity use their sewing skills to earn money and that is exactly what Secret Projects provides. I find it so fulfilling to play a small role in this powerful model.

Question: Tell us a little about your life away from Secret Projects.

Margaret: I live in South London with my husband Johnny, a photographer, 20 year old son, Charlie, who is currently on a training programme for a company that hires cameras and lighting equipment to the TV and film industry and our dog, Marple, a beautiful creature, we re-homed from a rescue centre. She and I are pictured together!

I love living in London, but do enjoy escaping to the countryside and love going for long walks in the fresh air. One of my greatest passions is to travel and I visit India as often as I can - it's my favourite country and I adore the vibrancy of the culture.

I do some voluntary work (helping with their communications) for a small charity that works in the Spiti Valley in the Himalayas and find this very rewarding. Now my son is grown up, I have more time for voluntary work and it's something that I really enjoy.

And to end - a few other things about me... I loathe having to clean my house, am constantly frustrated that there is always washing to do... finally... I feel very happy as I walk Marple early in the morning - it sets me up for the day!


Let's finish with a bit of light-hearted fun!

Question: Dancing or walking?

Margaret: Dancing when I am on my own!!! (I'm not a good dancer!!!) I can walk for miles!

Question: Going out for the evening or staying at home?

Margaret: As I am getting older, it's definitely staying at home! I do love going out for lunch with friends these days.

Question: If you could have a one hour telephone conversation with anyone, who would it be?

Margaret: That's an interesting one... I think it would be Bishop Desmond Tutu. I really admire his strength, his open minded faith and compassion for humanity.

Question: As Secret Projects drives people to think about India what do you want to tell the world about India? What do you love most about the country?

Margaret: I would say go to India if you can. It is truly a place like no other - full of colour and life, but also hardship. I can't really explain how I feel when I am in India, there is such an energy and I feel privileged to have been able to explore communities away from the tourist trail.










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SP Accountant's Trip - one year on!

SP Accountant's Trip - one year on!

Secret Projects Accountant’s Trip – November 2019  A little background...  Just over a year ago, Secret Projects took the decision to . . . change our business model completely and became a Community Benefit Society. The organization was put up for sale, giving people the opportunity to buy shares and, with others, own Secret Projects Community Benefit Society.   Our CEO, Fritha headed up the promotion of the newly structured business and was busy selling community shares. Banke, Secret Projects Global Director of Finance and Operations oversaw finding the correct financial structure for the new business – a task she relished! Part of the new structure meant that Secret Projects formed a subsidiary company in India, known as Social Power India (SPI), and Banke knew that we were moving into a completely different arena. We would begin trading internationally as a multinational company, which has its own compliances and financial regulations plus accountancy standards for each country Secret Projects was to trade in.   As a highly experience professional, Banke knew what her accountancy strengths were and had spent several hours in discussions with Secret Projects UK Accountant Fiona Bird of Heather & Co, bouncing ideas around. However, the more she and Fiona investigated the India side of the business, Banke realized that she had a gap in her knowledge. To plug this gap, she put feelers out into her professional network, and this is how we were able to connect with Sneha Shah, an Indian accountant, who has since become SPI’s accountant based in India.   The 3 accountants decided that it was crucial for them meet face to face, spend time together, focusing on what needed to be done, dividing tasks between them in line with their own areas of expertise and they also felt they wanted to get to know each other better. So, in November 2019, Banke and Fiona boarded a flight to Bengaluru and the first Secret Projects Accountant’s Trip began!   The trip...  The 3 women stayed in a flat together in the city for a week, speaking the same accountancy language, and because of spending this focused, quality time together, realized how beneficial it was for Secret Projects to have their joint experience and skills in compatible areas. It is fair to say that during this time, they bonded!   It was also decided that whilst in India, Banke and Fiona would begin the process of sourcing a suitable bank for SPI, and Sneha volunteered to help with the search, and was an invaluable asset, as she has so much experience of the Indian banking system. They spent time thinking about what SPI needed from a bank, what banks in India required from businesses and arranged meetings with several institutions. Although it’s not an easy task to set up bank accounts in India, it helped enormously for Secret Projects Accountants and Director to meet Banking Account Managers in person and as a result, they found a bank that is an excellent fit. The officials of the bank they chose is led by a woman and strikingly, they completely understand and back our work to empower women. As importantly, SPI has been able to develop an excellent working relationship with the bank, and this is enormously beneficial for the business.   Other outcomes...  All 3 found it incredibly empowering on a personal level to work together and collectively realize Secret Projects vision of a world where all women have the confidence and resources to make choices, thrive and contribute to the strengthening of their communities. This feeling of personal empowerment has driven them to believe even more deeply that women in India can be empowered by Secret Projects 4-stage Virtual Training for Empowerment Programme and the making and selling of clothing and homeware. Banke now knows that if she has any issues that need sorting out, or needs to get a task completed in India, she can rely on Sneha completely and indeed all of them feel the same way and the great, professional relationship that sprang up from this trip is growing ever stronger.   It wasn’t all work...  Banke, Fiona and Sneha worked all morning and then in the afternoon would venture out into Bengaluru, visiting the palace and various markets for shopping trips and had lots of fun in the process! They returned to the flat for a few more hours work, before spending the evening having dinner and getting to know each other away from work. On their last evening together, they visited a well-known restaurant recommended by Fritha and had a ball, even though no-one was feeling particularly well that night.   The flat, where they stayed is situated beneath the apartment of SPI Director Nirmala, who really took care of them all, inviting them to her house for breakfast and was on hand throughout the trip and really made everyone feel at home.  They were wonderfully comfortable, making their business trip so much pleasanter than staying in a hotel.   The following week after Fiona had left to return to the UK, Banke, who was to remain in India for a further couple of weeks, travelled to Mumbai with Sneha and stayed for a few days with her and her partner. Banke had the most wonderful time, as they took her sight-seeing, for a manicure and a pedicure and even had dinner in a restaurant that is a favourite haunt of Bollywood stars. Spending time with Sneha and her family like this was a great ending to this part of her time in India.   Since then, of course, the world has changed as COVID-19 took a grip with most countries going into lockdowns. Secret Projects financial team now meet virtually, which will continue for the foreseeable future. However, this is made easier by their strong working and personal relationship that was forged during their week together in Bengaluru.     Photo: Left to right, Sneha, Fiona, Banke and Nirmala
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Our values. We support each other...

Our values. We support each other...

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We are proud to be WFTO's member of the month!

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