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Six weeks after disputed elections led to waves of unspeakable violence in Kenya, the clashes seem to be easing and relative calm is returning.   This is a welcome respite that is allowing businesses to re-open and people to return to their daily lives, but a lot of damage has been done and the economic effects will not be fully felt immediately.  

In addition to AntiGenre, I own a fair trade clothing and jewelry business called Fair Industry.   Yesterday, I received an update from the Bombolulu workshops, an organization that employees people with physical disabilities and one of Fair Industry’s trading partners, in Mombasa, Kenya.  Here is an excerpt from that email:

“The hotels in Mombasa are however extremely quite and many have closed down as charter planes that were flying to Kenya suspended their flights. The tourist arrivals have actually reduced by 92% and bookings for August have not yet been received.

Bombolulu Workshops annual budget of about $ 760,000 constitutes 50% exports sales (wholesale prices) and 50% local sales which are mostly in retail prices with a 100% to 200% mark up on wholesale prices. The local sales emanate largely from tourists and in January our retail sales declined by 90% compared to the same period last year. This revenue gap is severely felt and has resulted in a considerable loss which we might not sustain for long without endangering jobs of workers and staff.

After consecutive losses between 2004 and 2006, the year 2007 had given the organization some ray of hope after we achieved a marginal surplus to plough back into Bombolulu for expansion/growth. Unless the situation changes very soon the prospects currently are bleak.

Due to the gap from local sales we project losses of $ 83,300 or Euro 50,000.00 within the first half year of 2008.  This may not only force a reduction of the workforce so as to sustain the organization but the effects will trickle down to many other small scale suppliers e.g. bone suppliers, sisal bags suppliers, which earn their living from selling to our outlet.”

From now until the end of the month, I will be putting all jewelry made by Bombolulu for Fair Industry on sale at 10% off the regular price.   Revenue from sales will be returned to Bombolulu in the form of future purchases, which in turn will help to ensure that the more than 150 men and women working there will continue to be able to earn a fair wage.

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