Secret Projects Community Benefit Society is one-year old!

 23rd Sep 2020 |  Blog |  Margaret Ring


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.

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

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

We had some wonderful news in late September, when we were advised by the World Fair Trade Organisation Europe (WFTO Europe) that we were to be their . . . member of the month for October. This came at a great time, as we were celebrating having been part of this amazing organisation for a year. Being recognised like this by WFTO, means that a wider audience opens up to Secret Projects and our story of women's empowerment in India spreads ever further. The work of the WFTO is so inspiring and so necessary and has members from all around the world working towards the common goal of fair trade in all it's forms, from decent working conditions to fair wages. We are honoured to be a part of this impactful institution and we say a big thank you to WFTO for making us October's member of the month!
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We invite you to Secret Projects first-ever Monthly Meet! 15th October at 10am BST

We invite you to Secret Projects first-ever Monthly Meet! 15th October at 10am BST

We invite you to Secret Projects first ever Monthly Meet! Thursday 15th October at 10am BST We absolutely loved getting together with so many of our . . . Shareholders in the summer for our first ever General Meeting of Secret Projects Community Benefit Society. After the meeting had ended, we of course had a team discussion to consider how the meeting went (we thought extremely well!), what we could improve on and our plans for future communications with everyone. We felt that it had been wonderful to be able to open up a space that allowed people to ask us questions and make suggestions about opportunities Secret Projects might like to consider and, we hit on what we think is a great idea, to invite you all to Secret Projects Monthly Meet! This monthly get-together is open to everyone and, in celebration of the day we pay our Makers each month, will be held on or around the 15th of each month and lasting for 45 minutes, won't take too much of a chunk out of your day. It's going to be pretty informal and as the get-together is for everyone, (Shareholders, Customers, Friends and people who want to get to know us) we won't be discussing information that would only be relevant to Shareholders. The main focus is to give you the opportunity to ask us any questions you may have and give your ideas for Secret Projects. This could be questions about our Maker Community, ideas for new products, stockists and new markets we could approach - anything goes! There is no set formula, stay with us for the entire 45 minutes or pop in and pop out, it's entirely up to you. We will vary the time of the meeting each month, so hopefully we will fit in with all time zone schedules! So, once again as a reminder (!) it's with great excitement that we invite you to our first Secret Projects Monthly Meet on: Thursday 15th October at 10am BST If you would like to join us, please email Margaret at events@secretprojects.org and she will get back to you with joining instructions. We look forward to seeing you virtually later this month! Photo: Secret Projects first Special Meeting of Shareholders, August 2020
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From the Heart of... our Team

We are proud to introduce Shin, Secret Projects Marketing Manager as part of our 'From the Heart of' series.  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 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 women's empowerment? Get to know Shin better by reading his interview about his work with Secret Projects and a little about his home life below:    Question: In a nutshell what does your role at Secret Projects consist of?  Shin: It’s so great to work at Secret Projects and I love my job. Firstly, we have got a perfect team and everyone are very responsible. I work here as the Assistant Marketing Manager and my role is to bring more customers in and maintain relationships with our customers.  My day at the office starts with team prayers and then I check emails, our sales and log in to live chat on our on-line retail stores.  I work closely with our management team; my colleagues and they are all amazing. I’ve learned a lot from everyone during my time at Secret Projects and I am looking forward to learning more and more!  Question: Is there a typical day in your role? What does it look like?  Shin: My role here in Secret Project is so varied and I love it. Apart from my main job role, I take product photographs and upload them to our website. I never get bored, as there are so many tasks to complete every day. To conclude there is no typical day in my role!  Question: What did you do before Secret Projects?  Shin: I was doing my MBA and immediately after my MBA I joined Secret Projects. This is my first job!  Question: How does your role at Secret Projects empower you?  Shin: Secret Projects empowers me in many ways. When I joined Secret Projects, I got  alot of training and gradually my skills developed both technical and non-technical with the help of everyone! My managers are like my family to me; they are very motivated and encouraging, they support me in all aspects of my role. The best thing that I will never forgot about is how Secret Projects gave me the courage to face the world.  Question: What do you find most fulfilling about working at Secret Projects?  Shin: The impact that Secret Projects brings to the women of India. Changing the life of many women in India, giving courage to every woman who works directly and indirectly with Secret Projects, upgrading their skills and helping them to become entrepreneurs. I find this is one of the most fulfilling parts of Secret Projects.  Question: Tell us a little about your life away from Secret Projects.  Shin: I am 24 years old now and live in Bangalore India with my friend who was my classmate during my college days. I feel that Bangalore is one of the best cities to live in India. Basically, I’m from northeast India and I have lived in Bangalore for almost 7 years now.  I’m very passionate about guitar and like having a cup of tea in the morning and evening; every day I have to play guitar and it’s a big part of my life. I play a lead guitar in a band which consists of 4 members and we compose our own music.  During my free time I am busy helping my friends to design a website using WordPress. I love learning new things and helping out my friends to design this website really does that!  Why I love Bangalore so much is that the city is surrounded with lots of trees. I love taking a long walk and exploring the beauty of nature. I feel this this city is the right fit for me.    Let's finish with a bit of light-hearted fun!  Question: Dancing or walking?  Shin: I literally don’t know how to dance, so obviously walking and I love walking for a long distance.  Question: Going out for the evening or staying at home?  Shin: I will choose staying at home, since I have to play guitar every evening  Question: If you could have a one-hour telephone conversation with anyone, who would it be?  Shin: It will be Jack ma, founder of Alibaba, his speeches are very motivating and inspirational  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?  Shin: I would say please visit India and explore the beauty of the culture and historical monuments. India has many cultures and many different languages for each state and our cities. People can learn lots of new things here in India  Basically I’m saying I love the culture of India! Ps. You can check out my guitar playing! Thanks for listening.   
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