Yesterday, the Radio Australia “Connect Asia” programme did a piece on the work of Tricia Johns who has organised “Women’s Woven Art” to provide jobs for Timorese women.
Women’s Woven Art specialises in traditional and contemporary handicrafts, bags and homewares. The main selling point is that the material used is traditional Timorese “tais”.
The interview can be heard at : http://www.abc.net.au/ra/connectasia/stories/m1365439.asx
It is also an interesting case in that she has battled to put together a business which provides jobs for Timorese. I am not even sure she takes an income from it herself but because it is classified as a business, she is not eligible for aid funding. My guess is that if she had understood the “system”, she may have structured things differently. But at the end of the day, the business is growing and it has done it without hand-outs (apart from her own).
Early last year, Tricia was organising the occasional one-off stall and also selling stuff from the back of her car. She was battling. But at the time, the Hotel Timor was also struggling to make anything of its own hotel shop. It had little to sell and was closed most of the time.
Around the middle of last year, Tricia managed to strike an arrangement with the hotel to take over the shop and it now looks very active. The quality of the product has steadily improved and the range of products continually expanding.
One day, I will bite the bullet and arrange for a custom-made tais laptop bag, which should raise eyebrows in any big city in the western world.