Partnership Update

FIELD TRIP SEPTEMBER 2015

In September a field trip was made to Tanzania and Uganda to visit existing and prospective partners. It proved to be a very challenging trip but also one that could offer up new projects to support artisans in other parts of Tanzania.

TANZANIA

The journey started in Dar Es Salaam, where we paid a visit to SIDO Headquarters (Small Industries Development Organisation) to discuss the upcoming visits and what TFS was hoping to achieve. It has been a long time since we looked to try and establish another project in Tanzania. Given the existing capacity of TFS to develop and sustain ASC (Artisan Support Centres) the prospect of us doing another project by ourselves is not a realistic option. However over the last several months we have been in negotiations with a Dutch tools organisation called BWW (Betuwe Wereldwijd) to work together on such projects. This has involved co-operation on the tailoring support centre in Mwanza, MSTC (Mwanza Sewing and Tailoring Centre), which was established in 2007. In discussions with the SIDO officials we explained the ideas behind ASC – provide sewing machines and tools coupled with a training and maintenance package. It was also stressed that we were looking to visit as many regions as possible to look to develop pilot schemes next year. In total we visited 4 regions. These were:

1. Dar Es Salaam – Coastal Zone
2. Morogoro – Coastal Zone
3. Iringa – Southern Zone
4. Kilimanjaro – Northern Zone

Meetings were organised with SIDO officials in each region and a presentation and discussions were held. We also brought, with us, some tools to show the quality and type of tools that would be available within the project. It was important during these visits that all potential partners were fully aware of the aims and objectives of the pilots.

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TFS is proposing to run 2 pilots which will provide both sewing machines (about 100 machines for each pilot) and tools (500 each pilot). We will look to use the tailoring centre in Mwanza (Lake Zone Region of Tanzania) to provide training and support.

The visits were both useful and informative. We met several SIDO officials, though in some cases because of other commitments and short notice we were unable to meet some regional managers. Feedback regarding the project was positive with many regions wanting TFS to establish such a project.

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Some artisans were visited by SIDO and TFS officials. Carpenter’s showed interest in the tools we had brought and were willing to pay high prices for them

1. Two chisels and a sliding bevel – 20,000 TSh
2. Braces bits between
10- 20,000 TSh per piece

They were also very interested in electrical machinery and had paid millions of shillings for some items.
Sewing machine prices ranged from:-

1. Chinese straight stitch treadle for 210-240,000 TSh
2. White plastic embroidery domestic for 600,000 TSh
3. Industrial sewing machine for 1,200,000 TSh

UPDATE ON TANZANIA PILOTS

After discussions with our partners we made contact with 2 SIDO regional managers to to determine if they would be interested in working with us to run pilot projects. They were very interested and we are now in negotiations with SIDO HQ to assess if these pilots can go forward. We are hoping to hear from SIDO HQ later in April and we will keep everyone posted of the outcome.

We have been informed of changes within the tax regime regarding the importation of materials for projects into Tanzania. The tax exemption that existed for many years has changed and this has and will impact shipping to projects in the future. At this stage we do not know what the financial figure will be but there will be a big increase in clearance costs which we will have to address with our partners.

UGANDA – WORI (WOMEN’S RIGHTS INICIATIVE)

We had arrived in Jinja hoping to determine how the ASTC (Artisn Support and Training Centre) project was getting on and to determine if they had achieved the targets set in April. Since then we had been receiving reports but they were both poor and the information in them was unclear.

Once we had gone through the records and finances it showed that the project had started to deliver on the targets that had been set. They had provided 40 sewing machines and 1,100 tools in a 4 month period (target for the first year was 50 sewing machines and 2,300 tools). The finances also tallied with the income generated and expenditure incurred.

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While things on the surface appeared satisfactory events were about to unfold quite dramatically and would end up a few months later with the project being stopped.

On arriving we were made aware that the junior mechanic had been dismissed. It later transpired that he had been caught stealing and the police did not prosecute, due to the small number of items taken. After this WORI conducted an audit but they failed to notice that many more tools were missing. The security and record keeping of stock was the responsibility of the senior mechanic. Given the large number of tools missing we had no alternative but to report this to the police. They then investigated the senior mechanic in the disappearance of the tools but no evidence was found against him and he was released.

All of this happened before we arrived and we were not informed of this. When Rose was asked why the junior mechanic had been sacked she informed us it was for poor performance. While they had done the right thing in doing a stock take they failed to notice hundreds of missing tools. It was extremely disappointing that we had spent most our time dealing with a crisis leaving little time to visit tailors and other artisans.

In an emergency meeting with Rose we discussed the future of the project given all the events and the loss of both tools mechanics. Since the project had developed a growing network and there was clearly a demand for its services we looked to see if we could get a way to maintain the project. Several options were considered and it was decided to increase the number of sewing machines and to send out only refurbished tools until such time that a new tools mechanic could be trained. This was all dependent on project changes being accepted by the funders of the project.

The one remaining area that we needed to gather information on was the delivery of training. There were some concerns regarding this when we were in Uganda but we had no time to fully investigate these. We contracted another organisation in Uganda to conduct an evaluation of the training and information gathered demonstrated that we had been misinformed by Rose on some points. To try and clarify the situation we formally requested information from Rose regarding expenditure. She refused and to be honest we were astonished by her response. This was not only a clear breach of the agreement that she had signed but was not the sort of thing you do with partners who have helped to get funds and resources to work on a joint project. This left TFS with no option but to cancel the project.

Funders were informed and money returned for the second year of the project and we were left with trying to secure the resources from the project so that they could be reallocated to other projects aimed at supporting artisans. Unfortunately Rose has shown herself to be extremely devious and has set herself out to keep all the money and resources. After communicating with the WORI committee (most of whom had not been informed by Rose and who were shocked by her actions) we have been trying with some members of the committee to get the resources released so that we can fulfil our obligation under the project agreement. This process has been on going and we will keep everyone informed.

Given the attitude of Rose to the partnership and her actions regarding the resources of ASTC, other organisations looking to work with WORI should be extremely careful. Rose clearly does not honour the terms, conditions or spirit in which external organisations try to assist in WORI’s activities.

4 Replies to “Partnership Update”

  1. Luckily enough T.A-CRUSADE- UGANDA declined the arrangement and the tools offer. Otherwise thanks TFS for supporting the under-served segments of our societies.

  2. When I started refurbishing tools I got a huge kick out of thinking “I did that” and I liked being the only person who had worked on one item. As time went by I saw that in fact if other people finish off work that I’d started then that was a good thing – what counted was the outcome, not my rather egotistical wish to be the one person who had worked on a particular item. Perhaps there is a similar issue with choosing the local organisations and personnel that you deal with in the recipient countries – it’s nice to feel that you have a personal connection with the people who receive the tools, but what really matters is the outcome.

    Anyway, the main thing is to find the inner strength to carry on. And in particular, respect to the people who did the field trip, who seem to have made good but very difficult decisions in really upsetting situations.

    1. Sorry – you are right – this section could have been written more clearly and we will rewrite.

      Briefly over 1000 tools ‘disappeared’ from the store – they were not recorded as sold to artisans. Despite the fact that an inventory was carried out by our partner they failed to spot this fact.

      Separately the junior mechanic was caught stealing a few tools by our partner and sacked. Our partner did not notify us of this and we only discovered the reasons for his dismissal when we arrived in Jinja.

      During this visit – in September – the senior mechanic said that the project needed more wood chisels. This was very strange as we had sent more than 500 and they had sold nowhere near that number – so a stock take was done by John and Francesca. This stock take revealed that the large quantity of tools were missing – at this point the police were called in. The senior mechanic was questioned by the police but he was later cleared of any suspicion.

      We have over many years sought partnerships with different organisations – both with tools organisations directly – TFSR/TFSR Cymru/GG in the Netherlands – the last had agreed to work in partnership with us to support the MSTC and develop new partners but then they went bankrupt! and with development organisations – war on want NI, ADD, Action Aid. We have asked for help in forming partnerships – good leads with which we could work but we are not the only tools organisation that finds this part of our work the most difficult. When we mentioned to TWAM about the failure of the partner they said the same had happened to them. I know it also happened to GG.

      We do now have a partnership with another Dutch organisation Tools 4 Change – they sent a container of sewing machines to the MSTC in December and we are having a meeting with them next week to talk about the MSTC and possible future projects together.

      We do not have dedicated project workers like TFSR – in fact there is a very small core of full time volunteers trying to manage all the different aspects of our work. We do realise we need to think longer term and to see how we can make the organisation more sustainable and to develop new projects. In may we will hold a strategic meeting to plan all of this but I really appreciate your thoughts, comments and solidarity.

  3. I don’t understand this section of the report –

    “Given the large number of tools missing we had no alternative but to report this to the police. They then investigated the senior mechanic in the disappearance of the tools but no evidence was found against him and he was released.

    All of this happened before we arrived and we were not informed of this.”

    As it currently reads, the report authors reported an event to the police before they arrived. Can you clarify this please?

    A general point – I think it’s great that you’re being honest with your supporters and telling them the truth. A lot of organisations would have kept quiet. On the other hand, this is the second time I’ve said this within less than a year….

    Anyway, this must have been a stressful and generally horrid experience for the people who visited (and the volunteers who found their hard work had been abused) so at a personal leveo I hope you all start to pick up again soon and find the inner strength to carry on. JULIANTHEBARBARIAN

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