The Warm Heart Sustainable Microenterprise Program provides economic opportunities for those living in poverty. We create jobs for local women’s artisan co-ops and train men and women who currently have no marketable skills. Our goal? Empower the poor to help themselves.
All over the world millions of people languish without jobs. Their old lives have been destroyed and they lack the education or skills to start new ones in the new, modern world.
Microenterprise is a way for them to build new lives by using what they do know creatively or to acquire new skills that allow them to create jobs for themselves in local market niches.
What is Microenterprise?
Microenterprise is a small business run by entrepreneurs who are working towards creating a livelihood. There are normally less than 5 people working together, more often single individuals. They usually produce a small number of products and have limited access to financial security and support.
How we do it
Warm Heart works with members of the community who do not have access to a sustainable income. We provide guidance and training to find a product that they are able to make to sell. We also help with marketing their products to help boost their sales. Visit our Fashion Accessories by Warm Heart.
Confronting Gender in Microenterprise
Gender discrimination cuts both ways. In the developed world, we focus on the exclusion of women. Warm Heart’s early Microenterprise Project did, too. Simple observation, however, reveals a more complicated story. Here as in much of the developing world gender roles have made teenage boys and men the real losers and excluded them from a future.
Every activity that once defined masculinity has been devalued; every job that once gave them pride in their ability to support their families has disappeared.
They have no meaningful education or training opportunities open to them. They cannot begin to visualize themselves in the alien world and roles of modern men. Rigid class structures lock them out as “dark skinned menials.”
What do “men” do today? Smoke. Drink. Do drugs. Talk big.
Here “everybody knows” that men are worthless. Many microenterprise organizations will not work with men; many microfinance organizations will not lend to men.
We understand why. We just don’t believe that giving up on half the population is acceptable.
Our approach to the “men problem” is to seek the path of least resistance. Focus on the immediate problem – jobs – and the first order of business – restoring men’s confidence and dignity. There will be time to confront gender roles later, but for now, we can work with them. We can even make them work for us.
At Warm Heart, we are attempting to build men’s cooperatives to make “men’s” products. If women like gathering together to spin and make bracelets, what might men like to sit around doing? What can men do that is either more productive than just smoking and chewing the fat or at least can profitably be done at the same time?
Well, although women do most of the heavy lifting, construction is a “guy thing,” so we thought of construction stuff that guy coops can make.
Solution? Bricks, blocks and roofing materials made from Styrofoam cement. Easy and environment friendly to make as a group and profitable to sell. What more could you want?
Learn how to start your own microenterprise business with Repurposing Styrofoam.