- Published on Wednesday, 15 April 2009
Rosivania Costa dos Santos
Participant Profile: Rosivania Costa dos Santos
Challenges: Discipline, persistence, awareness to see beyond what she was lacking
Successes through the cCLEAR Proof of Concept Project:
• Increased her network of places to sell
• Significantly improved her management of inventory and raw materials
• Earned nearly R$200 just from existing materials
• Learned to incorporate additional family members to produce products
• Was able to demand a 50% deposit for commission of new pieces, which improved working capital
Project Goals: Develop a family business to market goods within the community, to other communities and in the city of Santarém.
Like many women, Rosivania Costa dos Santos, one of the participants in CEN's cCLEAR Proof of Concept Project, struggled to balance the demands of family and work. As a mother, full-time teacher at the local school in her rural Brazilian community of Suruacá, and caretaker to her parents and three brothers, Rosivania was already juggling a dizzying number of titles when she decided to add one more to the list: small business owner.
Rosivania was always an artistic soul. In her limited free time, she designed and sewed clothing and made handicrafts for family and friends. Although she had a good job as a teacher in the local school, Rosivania was looking for a way to turn her hobbies into a career and spend more time with her family. Rosivania saw her chance when CEN began the cCLEAR Proof of Concept Project — which involved teaming up with community members to work on development projects, local business initiatives, and overall problem solving — in her community.
Although Rosivania and her family were relatively affluent by the standards of the tiny riverside community of Suruacá (population 600) in the Brazilian Amazon, she became a participant in the project. Because she was highly respected and trusted in the community, Rosivania was a role model for others. Utilizing her previous experience as an educator along with the new skills she would develop though the cCLEAR program, Rosivania would help foster a new mindset in the next generation.
Rosivania's dream was to create a small family business that would design, produce and sell handcrafted garments. It was an ambitious goal: Her spare time was limited, and the logistics were demanding. In the beginning, she felt overwhelmed. Rosivania had little experience in assessing potential markets, procuring materials, or marketing her goods. She didn't know where to start.
Through an innovative training methodology pioneered by CEN called PRATICAR, CEN worked closely with her to develop a series of activities that not only focused on basic skills, such as problem solving, critical thinking, and persistence, but also helped her develop specific crucial business skills.
She worked with CEN to break down her goal into simple, manageable tasks. The first, and perhaps most important, step was realizing she already had many of the necessary resources to start. She was a creative thinker, a skilled communicator, and a hardworking person who could take her challenges on, step by step.
She created a budget. By keeping production costs low and avoiding additional salaries, Rosivania saw that she could quickly double her teaching income and better support her extended family. She inventoried her existing cloth and button supplies and found she already had enough to make several pieces. She also started tracking the exact material costs and time required to make each item. Then she contacted family members in the cities of Santarém and Macapá, many hours away, and arranged to ship them her goods. She finalized commission payment deals for her sellers and negotiated a 50% deposit for the commission of new pieces, which improved her working capital.
The small market size in Suruacá, as well as the difficulty of transporting goods to sellers outside the community, however, presented a significant challenge to her growing business. There was obviously a community-wide need to get goods to market more efficiently. With this thought in mind, Suruacá artisans together came up with the idea of a mobile sales unit. By pooling their resources, they reasoned that they could travel to surrounding locations to sell their goods.
The activity is still in its nascent stages with many details to finalize: how to pool time and resources to run the mobile unit efficiently, how to pay for upstart and transportation costs, and how to pool and divide the profits. Nevertheless, the idea presents promising potential for additional income and revenue for the Suruacá residents. CEN Director Bob Bortner plans to continue working with Rosivania and the other cCLEAR participants on this initiative this July, when he returns to the region with a group of visitors for the Unveiling the Amazon ecotourism trip.
Whether by mobile sales unit or through local vendors, Rosivania's goods will find a way to market. Her resilient attitude of ingenuity, persistence, and resourcefulness in the face of adversity has allowed her to overcome many challenges throughout her life, and her new business will be no different. Where others see challenges, she sees opportunity.