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.