Exciting things are happening here at SLJ in Kumbo. Behind all the training and production, there rests a powerful desire among the recent Sacred Link Jewelry Graduates to become self-sufficient by creating viable economic opportunities for themselves. The concept of true empowerment is taking hold. Just consider this anecdote:
Recently Anita traveled to Douala on personal business. As she was recounting her experience to Shey Wongibe, I joined the conversation and noticed two new sets of jewelry laid out where they were working. It turned out that before Anita’s departure, the two women had decided that she would purchase some jewelry at a low cost in Douala with the intention of reselling it here in Kumbo at a profit.
Shey and Anita had pooled together what money they had, and Anita carefully chose the new jewelry based on several criteria which clearly reflect new business ideas presented in SLJ. Price was the primary concern, as the jewelry needed to be affordable here in Kumbo. The next criterion was quality. Since the introduction of quality control during the training course, this aspect of marketing and selling products has become second nature to the women. They have come to realize the value in providing a quality product to ensure customer satisfaction and secure a positive reputation for a steady customer base. (This is a novel concept in Kumbo, where products are typically of very poor quality by Western standards, and where people are accustomed to paying low prices for goods that they don’t expect to last.) The final consideration was to provide a unique product, not readily available in Kumbo. This too is an original marketing strategy for the region, since trends in this tight-knit community tend to emerge collectively. It’s common, for example, to see whole groups of women dressing alike right down to their jewelry. So these two SLJ graduates are looking to tap into a totally new market.
As I was conversing with these women, I was overwhelmed by the limitless possibilities that lie ahead for them. They have each internalized the idea that they themselves can create their own opportunities and become truly empowered.