When it comes to social exclusion, Dorcas is clear that poverty is the root cause. So, how is ASIGE addressing this? Primarily, through sexual and reproductive health education designed to tackle high levels of teenage pregnancy and HIV/AIDS, and the provision of income generating skills training such as basket weaving, tailoring and shea butter production for women in the community. By 2021, Dorcas’ cooperatives comprised more than 400 female artisans, and more than 80 male members engaged in leatherwork.
Dorcas has also been making strides towards broadening the impact of ASIGE by providing training to women in sustainable and innovative agricultural practices such as the cultivation of cashew trees. In parallel, she is developing a microfinance fund and financial literacy training program to provide women with the resources and know-how to build their own businesses and save for the future.
In response to the coronavirus pandemic, which slowed the demand for products, Dorcas found innovative ways to ensure her organization stayed afloat. She encouraged all vendors of ASIGE baskets to open online shops, and pivoted part of the work into sewing face masks which are sold locally as well as being exported to the US, UK, France, and Japan.
Through all these initiatives, Dorcas is helping to turn the tide of poverty in her community through the empowerment of women. In two successive years (2017 and 2018), she was awarded small grants from the Pollination Project to invest in the ASIGE basket weaving project. Dorcas also sought funding to build a structure to provide the women with shelter, enabling production to continue during the rainy season.