A little over two years ago, when I started working with XSProject, the organization was close to going out of business. The non-profit was being run primarily by volunteers, product sales were not covering expenses, and there were limited prospects for new revenue. The situation was dire.
Thanks to the contributions of GlobalGiving philanthropists and the dedication of the team on the ground in Indonesia, we have been able to turn the situation around. I am happy to say that today XSProject is run by a team of full-time, paid staff that are all Indonesians. Many of the staff come from the local communities. Our sales have increased substantially, which means more work for our sewers - most of whom rely on this income stream for the livelihoods of themselves and their families. The increased revenue means that XSProject is even closer to achieving its goal of full financial sustainability - even though we are not there yet. In addition, we streamlined the social programs that XSProject was involved in to focus exclusively on the education of trash picker children. This created overall efficiencies at the organization that resulted in a broader base of innovative products, and the removal of more waste from landfill. XSProject is in a very different position today, than it was 2 years ago.
As of January 1, 2012, another transition will occur. I will be stepping aside as the Executive Director, and Retno Hapsari, the Operations Manager in Indonesia, will move into a General Manager role. Going forward, she will be driving not only the day-to-day operations for XSProject, but the overall business. This is a great achievement for XSProject because never before has the organization been managed and run exclusively by the local team. Retno and I have been working closely together over the past year to prepare her for this role. She is a talented, dedicated professional and I have confidence that she will excel in her new position. I will continue to be available to her whenever she needs help or support, although I am sure that will diminish over time.
In mid-to-late January, we will also be releasing our Winter 2012 catalogues, which will introduce some new products along with our classics. Be sure to check it out in the Products section of our website (www.xstransformed.org). A few pictures are attached to whet your appetite.
We appreciate and thank you for your continued support. I look forward to great things for XSProject.
As you will see from the attached 2010 Annual Report, we had great hopes for XSProject this year. While it would be great to provide a very upbeat report that describes lots of growth and progress, the truth is that 2011 has been a difficult year for XSProject. The struggling global economy is making its impact known across the world. One of our favorite distributors in Greece has not been able to purchase as much product from XSProject as usual because their business is being hit hard by the financial crisis in that country. Consumers are not buying as much, which means retailers can not purchase as much. This puts pressure on the entire distribution chain and has a direct negative impact on enterprises like XSProject that manufacture goods. This scenario has been playing out around the world with a number of our distributors. As a result, XSProject is running slightly in the red this fiscal year.
The good news is that thanks to the support of our donors, we are weathering the storm. The grants that we have received through GlobalGiving enabled us to end 2010 with cash reserves that are helping us through these more difficult times and keeping us in business. We remain committed to our primary goals of supporting providing jobs and supporting trash picker families. As a result, even in the months when our sales are not able to fully cover our operational costs, we still put money aside for the continued education of 35 children. And when we need to cut corners, we do it in ways that keeps our staff and outsourced sewers working. We look forward to the day our sales volumes are growing again, so we can help even more kids and can return to hiring objectives.
We also remain committed to the goals that we mentioned in the Annual Report, such as building our distribution channels. Another piece of good news is that we have started to partner with a large distribution network in the United States. A first step in the process is refining our products so they appeal even more to US consumers. If we are successful in developing a set of products that are valued by a broad base of customers, our sales volumes will not only grow but will be more predictable and have fewer month-to-month fluctations.
It is our belief that the tide will turn, for all of those that are struggling in this economy. And, we believe that through the continued support of our GlobalGiving community, we will be able to continue to transform trash and change lives.
The XS team has been hard at work: adding to our product lines, seeking new distribution channels, and providing scholarships to more children.
Financially, the first months of 2011 have been a bit of a challenge. Due to the ongoing repercussions of the financial crisis, our sales were not as high this year as they were last year. Our distributors have been much more cautious in their ordering, which has impacted our sales. Thanks to the donations we have received through GlobalGiving, we are weathering the storm. Thank you all!!
Even though we have not generated the sales we had hoped for in the early months of this year, we are standing by our commitment to put 5% of all our revenues into a scholarship fund for trash picker children. That has enabled us to support another child at Peduli Anak. So we are now providing educational opportunities to 30 children, and completely supporting another 4!!! That is what it is ultimately about, after all.
XS has also launched a new website that encapsulates our goals of transforming trash and changing lives. You can visit our new site at www.xstransformed.org. While there, visit the Products tab. From here you can download, catalogues from all three of our product lines and you can watch a video that shows how our products are made. The new website provides a lot more information about our work, and the ways in which we are trying to positively impact the environment, local communities, and the trash pickers. We hope you take a look.
Thanks so much for your continued support.
During the past several months, XS has been developing new products. In the past, we always developed one catalogue, but now we have divided our products into three different lines – plastics, billboard, and carseat. The plastics line is our classic line. All the products are made from the plastic packaging that XS has always purchased directly from trash pickers. It is still a popular line. About two years ago, we started making products from used billboards. The use of that material has evolved and we now have a full line of billboard products. And now, thanks to donations from Mitsubishi, we also have a carseat line. You can see all the products we make in the attached catalogs.
The two full time designers that XS was able to hire, thanks to the help of people like you, were instrumental in the development of all our new products. With them, we have also been able to respond quickly to customers who are looking for custom designs. We think our new products will do well in the marketplace, and that will help us generate more income to support our scholarship programs.
Last month Retno Hapsari, our Operations Manager traveled to the Indonesian island of Lombok, where she visited three of the trash picker children that we are supporting. They are doing well, and really enjoyed meeting Retno. In addition to the children in Lombok that we are helping, XS is providing scholarships to a number of children in a trash picker community close to our offices. Since we have been having a bit more success with our new products, we are now thinking about additional ways that we can help the children of the community. We want our success to be their success.
We are excited about the progress that XS has been making, and we thank all of you for the generous support that is helpint to make our transformation possible!
Since our last report, XS has made progress. We are developing a new line of products and we are transitioning management to the local team. But more about those topics in a future post. This update is dedicated to Pak (Mr.) Salim, who was the leader of the original trashpicker community that XS worked with. Pak Salim has been part of XS since its earliest days.
Sadly, Pak Salim passed away last week. He was in his early 60s. Pak Salim did not die from a complicated disease. It was a hernia that killed him. Hernia surgery is one of the most common and safest operations performed in the United States. They are also a relatively inexpensive and safe operation in many developed countries. Unfortunately are not inexpensive for a poor person in a developing country like Indonesia. Pak Salim could not afford an operation, even though it was recommended. So his hernia went untreated.
When XS learned that Pak Salim was ill, the Jakarta team offered to cover the cost of his surgery. However, we got involved too late. Before there was time to find out more details about the required operation, Pak Salim passed away. He will be sadly missed by the team at XS as well as by his family and members of his community. It is not clear what will happen to the community as a result of his passing. Sometimes a new leader steps into place. Other times, the community dissolves and people find new homes in other trashpicker communities. Whatever the outcome for those left behind, this will be a period of transition and challenges. At XS, our thoughts are with all of them, particularly the children in this community that are beneficiaries of our scholarship program.
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