Saturday, May 17, 2014

The Tipping Point

Ni zabre!

This week marked the mid-way point of our time working at TN and has been as busy as ever! Tuesday saw the departure of national volunteer, Jean, who has been working with TN for almost a year and will be taking up a research post in Bobo-Dioulasso. Tuesday afternoon saw a special goodbye lunch prepared by members of Tigoung Nonma, and his efforts were celebrated with speeches and gifts from the artisans. We are all very sad to be losing him and wish him the very best of luck in his new position!

Team TN (and guests, Tom, Abdul and Rob) at Jean's leaving party

This week we have been turning our attention towards the forthcoming open day, which will take place at Tigoung Nonma’s new headquarters on 7th June. In order to receive as many visitors as possible we are directing publicity towards our immediate neighbours, as well as NGOs and organisations with a similar focus around Ouagadougou. We visited INAFAC, the arts school across the road, and Cartel, a theatre on our street, where we distributed leaflets, put up posters and were in turn invited to a production of ‘Tilaï’, a puppet show about forced marriage inspired by Molière. We have found our neighbours to be interested in and supportive of the work of TN. We have tried to make the email invitations to NGOs and other organisations colourful and exciting to effectively demonstrate the dynamism of the cooperative.

Emily and Esther putting the final touches into the Open Day flyers
In addition, we have been working on building TN’s online presence on social media platforms Twitter and Facebook, with the hope that a wider online network will in turn bring new interest and customers. We have been researching into crowdfunding as a means of obtaining funds for the purchase of a new premises closer to the centre of Ouaga, which would enable TN to increase the amount of cooperative sales revenue (the 20% received from the sale of each work put towards the running of the organisation) spent on supporting members, rather than monthly running costs such as rent. As the recently-launched micro-credit scheme demonstrates, there are many ways in which TN’s money can be used productively to help the artisans increase their production capacity and hopefully sales. Furthermore, a bigger, more central and permanent headquarters should allow for greater productivity and increased revenue. Crowdfunding is likely only to be successful after continued directed publicity about Tigoung Nonma, so we intend this to be a collaborative project with future cohorts as well as the members of TN.

Throughout the week we have also been continuing workshops on computer skills, with particular emphasis on Excel for spreadsheet maintenance, and social media usage for developing and maintaining links with potential partner organisations and customers, with the intention that these skills will help Tigoung Nonma members to further increase awareness of their work. Lastly, we have been continuing to contact hotels around Ouagadougou in the hope that they will display TN products in their foyers, and have managed to arrange a further two meetings next week, which we are feeling hopeful about.

Roxy, Vice-President Eva, and Esther; hard at work
This Saturday (the 17th), we will be holding a small exposition of TN’s work at ‘Le Foyer de l’Atélier du Théâtre Burkinabè’, a local restaurant and theatre venue, where a storytelling event will be taking place. We are really greatful for the support that the Foyer team has shown us. Thank you again!

Roxy tries out a traditional cure 
On a final note, the British volunteers were delighted to be taught by Esther that a traditional Burkinabe method of curing hiccups is to take a small straw out of a broom and placing it in the hair of the middle of the sufferer’s forehead. To much disbelief it worked straightaway!

Thanks for reading, and until next time, bilfou!

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