Jewellery Ecommerce App Project

I had started the year looking at air-to-water harvesting using fog nets and dew condensers. However, my direction changed a few days before we left Tanzania due to a few factors:

1. Through my observations and tests, I found that dew condensers could not obtain low enough temperatures needed to yield water, and fog nets required very specific environmental conditions in order to effectively produce enough water. Finding those specific conditions required moving the fog net around Mount Longido to test different sites, and would cost time and money. 

2. The nets in Longido needed to be placed on the mountain because dense fog covered it from May to November. However, I felt it was too far removed from the end user and prevented them from being exposed to the technology. What the villagers would see would just be the increase in water flow. It was a passive approach, which I felt neither empowered or inspired social change. 

3. The distance also meant that extra piping would be needed to direct the collected water to the reservoirs, greatly increasing the overall cost for the fog net. This meant that the villagers would not be able to fund the project themselves and would need to rely on external help via sponsors and N.G.O's, which would perpetuate Longido's donor dependency. 

4. One thing FogQuest emphasized was the social aspect of the project. They stressed that if the village did not feel they were involved in their entire process of setting up and maintaining the fog net, it would not have longevity and would quickly become forgotten. I felt that having the fog nets so far away from the village would prevent personal investment and attachment to the project.

All of these factors compounded my uneasiness for continuing on with fog nets. Thus, when Trevor Smith approached me with a concept for creating an ecommerce platform for the Maasai women to sell their jewellery, I was immediately intrigued. Selling jewellery is one of the main means for the women to earn money and this project would look to support them in gaining economic empowerment and financial literacy. I am an advocate for bottom-up design and was enthusiastic to create something for each individual woman to build and command for themselves. 

Now, my project consists of:

- creating an app for the Maasai women to upload pictures of their jewellery to sell over the Internet
- creating a toolkit that would allow the women to experiment and create jewellery
- creating an online store that would appeal to the Western world
- creating branding and packaging for the company to ship jewellery to consumers

The vision of the company:

Five years from now (company name) will be offering traditional, fashionable Masaai jewelry to developed markets through our cutting edge platform while ensuring that all of the profits are diverted to the female artisans of the Longido District, Tanzania. The platform will also act as an incubator for future entrepreneurial endeavors put forth by the sellers in order to continue to further the quality of life in the region.

The mission of the company:

To create economic opportunities for the women artisans of the Longido District, Tanzania by creating a meaningful marketplace between them and the Canadian consumer.

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