Thursday, June 11, 2009

Bicycle Factory Chapter 3: Wonder Welders

(To start at the beginning, go to

I was on the trail of finding welders to work in a possible bicycle factory . It was recommended that I stop by Wonder Welders and see what they have.

But let me back up a little. Tanzania has enlightened laws to protect the employment rights of handicapped people. But with only 15% employment (not UNemployment) a handicapped person, whether by birth or injury has little chance in the world.

There are a few organizations in Tanzania working to help. Wonder Welders is one of these. I met the new Director, Elly Kay in the workshop. Their organization employs exclusively handicapped men and women. They teach craft skills including welding, paper making, specialty soaps, glass bead creation, and more. At first they give some art guidance and then they set them loose to create. On May 29th, 2009, I stopped by and met them.

Using scrap materials, these artists make beautiful works that could be treasured across the world. They pay an above average salary and then give the artists a commission on everything of theirs that is sold. 44 disadvantaged people have a new life of dignity.

Wonder Welders is operating at about break even. It could use some accounting help to organize their finances and calculate the costs of pieces. We are looking to coordinate this with business students from the University of Dar es Salaam. (See related story.) There is more demand for their products than they are able to meet, but exporting has its own complications and requires building up a large enough stock to make it work. That requires cash flow and there is none available.

I didn't find welders for the bicycle factory, I did find artists!

Check out their website at

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