As some of the members are aware either via direct discussions or by consultation of the posts on this network's blog, it was an arduous task to get things started and we are still struggling to put this in the proper form.
After initial promises of funding from various patrons - which never materialised unfortunately - and difficulties in creating a proper charity license, we are now in the process of setting up a funding system for this venture in order to be able to create it as a full trading entity that can be authorised to sell according to the "foreign-foreign" system (or within the freezone it is created in) handicraft that derives from the Asian sub-continent as a first stage and subsequently from locally supported workers. A venture has therefore been set in place in order to sell online art objects and curiosities and a part of the proceeds of those sales will be used to fund the set-up and subsequent work of Mena MicroFinance TM.
As a reminder, Mena MicroFinance TM is a social project but cannot be set up as such because of the legal constraints in the UAE which do not allow it to be set-up as a charity without an Emiri Decree and it also cannot be set-up as a Microfinance institution because the funds involved in having that set-up would be too prohibitive and defeat the purpose of this venture given the lack of patrons willing to fund this initiative.
Most, if not all the patrons approached were only interested in funding it if they could get a return of 25% per annum on their initial funds. Having started the venture with in mind a social entrepreneurship focus, it was obviously absurd for me to venture into such schemes which are closer to usury than any actual Microfinance driven (and even less a social) initiative. I have therefore had to be patient and work diligently and slowly for an alternate solution while ensuring I was able to gather enough funds to start materialising the alternate solutions I had in mind.
Therefore it is only a legal choice to set it up as a Trading entity, the purpose of which will anyway be fulfilling the actual auto-funding measures as the entity will ultimately be selling products that are made by the persons the entity will support as intended initially.
The initial sales are set as high quality products derived from the Asian sub-continent because as a founder and having undergone the painful exercise of obtaining initial promises for the funding which were then withdrawn, I wanted to maximise the possibility of people paying an adequate amount that would compensate for the cost of the product itself, allow to put aside enough money for setting up the Trading entity ultimately and at the same time give the buyer a good sense of satisfaction from a material point of view (given the predominant importance of this last aspect from earlier experience). Once the trading entity set-up and having enough funds to start the business, I would then be able to have the right to sell within the UAE freezone using the Trading license and sell as well abroad to foreign patrons interested in acquiring socially rewarding handicraft.
After the initial stage, it is intended to proceed to the sale of objects created by ladies supported by Mena MicroFinance for the set-up of their businesses from home, producing mainly items such as Abayas, Shaylas, other clothing, needlework, handicraft, etc. The sale of high quality products from the Asian sub-continent will continue in order to increase the funds available for the entity.
For those of you who want to make a difference and help this venture materialise, please have a look at the Facebook page for the online sale of the objects which was set-up by my brother located in North Africa ( http://www.facebook.com/pages/Art-pieces-and-curiosities/1485299341... ) and feel free to shop if you like any of the objects.
One needs to bear in mind that a minimum amount of 300,000 AED is required as capital and an additional amount is due for the license itself which takes the total cost in the first year to a minimum of 350,000 AED not including the amounts required for the general expenses (storage space, cost of material) and the amounts required to pay the women for the products until the point in time that such products are sold and then allow for a continuation of the business (initial cashflow required).
Thank you all for your support and encouragement.