- Published on Friday, 30 July 2010
Participant Profile: Luciene Sousa dos Santos
• Connecting with new customers
• Saving enough money to buy a new sewing machine
• Developing accounting and administrative skills
• Moved production into a shared workshop
• Involved in the Suruacá Entrepreneur Group to build access to new markets
• Improved administration and account-keeping
Luciene Sousa dos Santos constantly impresses the Community Empowerment Network (CEN) field workers with her optimism, enthusiasm to improve her business, and ability to implement new ideas and processes. She is truly a star of thecCLEAR program, and CEN is watching her progress with interest.
Dona Luciene, 32, is a skilled tailor who hopes to build a successful clothing workshop, following in the footsteps of her father. She lives in Suruacá with her husband and children. Her goal is to increase the family income to 800 Brazilian reais a month. This compares to the R$200 a month she earns doing small sewing projects by request. In the past she has also worked as a housewife, receptionist, and babysitter, and in roles that involved more labor-intensive tasks like manioc cultivation and flour production. By increasing her regular income, she hopes to enable her children to attend school regularly, and save enough money for a sewing machine. Just a few months into her partnership with CEN, she managed to put away R$200. Unfortunately, her daughter became ill, and Dona Luciene had to use much of these savings for medical treatment. As is the case for businesspeople all over the world, life has a habit of getting in the way of the best-laid plans.
In recent years, Dona Luciene has begun specializing in producing intimate clothing for women — lingerie — and her wares are now popular among many women in the village. Like any successful businessperson, she has a clear idea of the strengths of her product. When asked why she chose to make those items, she said, "It is a job that I know how to do really well, and I can sell for a very good price, well cheaper than in Santarém. Moreover, women always want to buy intimate clothing." The problem she faces, however, is the size of the village itself — her customer base is very limited. There are few jobs in the community, so few people have money to spend on anything but the most basic necessities.
While a proposal for a mobile selling unit didn't get past the planning stages, Dona Luciene has proven she is always able to look for solutions rather than submit to problems. At the time of her most recent CEN visit, Dona Luciene was responding enthusiastically to the idea of our new entrepreneur group, which was designed to keep former cCLEAR participants and other entrepreneurs motivated.
Rather than waiting for instruction, Dona Luciene has once again demonstrated her proactive spirit, which has impressed us all, by developing the idea of a periodic fair in Suruacá, where group members can display and sell their products. Dona Luciene and the other producers are taking the idea of expanding their customer reach ever further by inviting other communities, which would help to expand the market base and to build Suruacá’s role as the regional meeting place.
As well as looking into how to sell to friends and family who live outside the community, CEN is looking into possibly contracting with Dona Luciene and other cCLEAR participants to produce a small variety of products for sale in the U.S. to our supporters.
Clearly, Dona Luciene understands that tapping into a wider marketplace is the key to expanding her sales base and achieving the personal goals she has for her business and her family. She is, in many ways, a clear example of the direct scope of CEN's victories. By enabling individuals to meet their own immediate economic and personal goals, CEN is promoting sustainable development and putting it in the hands of those who will benefit.
It is that emphasis on self-empowerment that Dona Luciene appreciates most. She told CEN program officer Angela Viehmayer Gaudencio that the key difference between cCLEAR and other programs in which she has participated is that CEN didn’t give the answers but made participants find them themselves. In this way, Luciene says she’s learned better ways to solve problems for herself.
Read more cCLEAR Participant Profiles