It seems like only yesterday that Secret Projects founder and CEO, Fritha Mason, made the decision to put the business up for sale, meaning that . . . anyone, whether old or young could purchase shares and... Secret Projects Community Benefit Society sprang into life! We are now owned by a body of 264 Shareholders and are proud to count a group of young people among our numbers - the next generation of social and ethical investors!
What a year it's been! We can only describe our journey over the last 12 months as almost surreal, not least that within 5 months we found ourselves in the midst of a global pandemic with countries around the world in lockdown. As soon as the reality of the situation became clear, we made a firm decision that we were going to survive and adapt the organisation to ensure that when lockdowns began to ease, we could get our bearings once more and thrive.
We knew that to survive, immediate action was needed and we put a raft of measures in place to protect Secret Projects, going into lockdown as a business to protect our Maker Community and team. In the UK, we took advantage of the government's furlough scheme for employees and applied for a government backed loan offered to businesses to assist during such an unprecedented time. In India we explored what help the government might be able to offer and put plans in place to sell 45% of our India subsidiary company's share capital to Shareholders who want to help grow the business and support our mission to empower women.
Our major concern was of course, for our Maker Community and we took great pains to contact the women to update them about our situation and to assure them that we were going to survive, with plans to begin production as soon as possible after the easing of lockdown. Fortunately, prior to the pandemic, we had made changes to our payment methods to Makers and began to send their money via bank transfer, rather than by cheque. This was invaluable, as obviously we couldn't travel to hand out the cheques and it also meant that we could get money to the women at this critical time.
At the forefront of our minds we kept believing that somehow, we could find a way to 'future proof' Secret Projects against other similar situations in a way that would still give us good access to our Maker Community, regardless of travel or other restrictions. We hit on a concept to deliver our training virtually and we are busy putting product training videos and materials together to be delivered to our Maker Communities via courier. We are planning to carry on this with this method for the foreseeable future - and so, our thriving began!
The thriving continues... our on-line retails stores are now open for shopping with customers being able to make purchases in Euro's, Rupees, GBP as well as US Dollars. We believe that this can only lead to the story of Secret Projects spreading to a wider and wider audience - our dream! Gorgeous new Secret Projects have raised their heads - from blankets to kimonos and one of our Maker Groups in West Bengal is back in production, with others to follow. The thriving list gets longer each week!
Our Shareholders are a massive support to us and we continue to give others the opportunity to purchase shares to join us on our journey to empower. And so, we begin our second year knowing that the world is still in an unpredictable position and it's not at all easy for businesses around the globe, but with a quiet confidence that our foundations are firm and will help us continue to thrive.
With pride, we announce that our Makers have earned £62,000 since Secret Projects began life...
The impact we make as an organisation is something . . . that we constantly look at, for example each month we publish how many new Makers we have welcomed, how many training days we have held and how many Makers were involved in that month's production. We also delve deeper and look at what our impact has been like in the long term, from our infancy.
Secret Projects began in 2014, the brain child of Fritha Mason, our CEO, we believe the impact we have been able to make for the women of our Maker Community has far outweighed the effort it has taken and, any figures we give cannot give the full story. Throw in the joy we have received along the way, as we work with these women - and everything becomes utterly priceless! However, figures are important and can be a great way of highlighting success.
So... it's with complete pride that we announce since Secret Projects was founded, our Makers have earned a total of £62,000 - a figure that gladdens our hearts!
Of course, behind this figure there lies wonderful stories of how this money has been used in so many invaluable ways by our Makers. It has provided education for children, bought medicines, meant that women didn't need to take out loans at high interest rates and our personal favourite, the creation of a number of micro-enterprises.
In celebration of this, we are beginning a new series of stories about our impact with delicious stories from our Makers. Do keep your eyes peeled!
We simply would not have been able to achieve this excellent impact without the support and backing from our customers, who have bought Secret Products, our Shareholders and committed team. We thank each and every one of you.
Photo: Women from the Secret Projects Maker Community
We constantly strive to improve the way we operate as a business and our Makers are always at the forefront of our minds. We have recently been able . . . to put a brand new payment system into place that we believe will bring about added financial security to the women in our Maker Community.
We have already proudly reported that thanks to our new bank and banking system, we are now able to pay our women via bank transfer, rather than by cheque. Being able to adopt this method has proved absolutely invaluable during lock down, as we have been unable to travel to communities to give the cheques to our Makers. We have since been able to add an extra layer to this latest process, with the bank transfers being made on the 15th of each month, which will really help the women to budget for their households with greater confidence, knowing exactly when and how much money they will be receiving each month.
Being able to help our Maker Community in this way, putting steps in place to help each women feel more secure financially, helps us inch ever closer to our vision of a world where all women have the confidence and resources to make choices, thrive and contribute to the strengthening of their communities.
We are proud of how we are able to make improvements like this to Secret Projects and look forward to what other ideas are around the corner. Of course, the 15th day of each month is now our favourite date!