From the start Mothers for All has been run on the basis of achieving self sustainability as quickly as possible. Like any business we required start-up capital but since we began trading in mid 2008 we have managed to double our turnover each year and will soon be covering all our expenses - and we are passing this business savvy onto our mothers.
Too many non-profit organisations fall into the trap of becoming totally donor-dependent and therefore have to shut down or limit their services as soon as donor funding starts to dry up. Mothers for All did not want to get itself into that vulnerable position and so adopted a business model from the outset. The mothers have all come to understand that their income is dependent on the orders we receive and, as some months are much leaner than others, they therefore need to save for these lean times.
We are also rolling out Money Matters workshops teaching each mother how to budget and save. Many of our mothers have no idea of what a budget is and how much they spend on different items. It has been a revelation to them to start tracking their household expenditure and see where they can trim wasteful spending. These workshops have been sponsored by Barclays Bank, Botswana which also ran a Financial Skills workshop for some of our mothers in the Central District of Botswana.
Jenny Dunlop, the Botswana national co-ordinator with the group of mothers on the Barclays Financial Skills workshop and holding a Mothers for All Money Matters workshop
Jenny is an ex-high school teacher and uses every opportunity to teach our mothers new skills. Included in the Barclays sponsorship of Money Matters is a catering allowance for each person and Jenny has been getting some of the mothers from each workshop to do the catering. For this they need to work out every cost that goes into food preparation from the cost of the food to the cooking, time, and transport costs. This is then used in the workshops as a practical example of why a budget is so important. While our first mothers who did this only managed to make a small profit they gained a huge understanding about 'hidden' expenses. And they won't be making the same mistake again. Business savvy indeed.