Case Study from Latvia: OWA
In the framework of WP2 of the project, the Latvian partner in the B-WISE project, Social Enterpreneurship Association of Latvia, went to interview workers at OWA!
It is a social enterprise established in 2016, with a mission to motivate women in difficulty and with disabilities to develop, educate and live a full life. Combining the knowledge and talents of two friends, OWA was created - the first brand in Latvia to offer clothing with watercolour and graphic prints transferred to fabric using sublimation printing technology. It operates as a work integration social enterprise, the owner and manager is herself with genetical disability. Mostly, sales happen through online store to individuals, but now because of new technology they are willing to develop B2B sector and export. Some of the workers are working in a subsidised working place, but they are changing quite often, because of length of birocracy and documentation needed. Now WISE is also employing two Ukrainian civilians who both have disabilities as sewer and marketing specialist.
According to the model, WISE is operating as a distinctive productive WISE, as its main goal is to give full time work opportunities for people with disabilities. It derives its resources only from the sale of goods, it has a medium turnover (increasing during the COVID period). Overall, profits are growing. Investments have been made in the equipment and improvement of the services. In the sector of manufacturing clothes WISE is competing with any other service. There is some public support, mainly subsidised work places, sometimes some services are given to public sectors, public financing instruments for social entrepreneurship has been used. All disadvantaged people in WISE are employed and paid. Almost all of the workers are disadvantaged, with only supporter and manager being not disadvantaged.
The company is ready and willing to change, and is open to transformation also in the digital technology realm, very dynamic, values its people very high, also told by workers. Company wants to grow to new markets and expand.
Use of technology: Quite high, all of the workers are working digitally. WISE is equipped with many technologies – 4 different printers, professional press, sticker printer. In their ecommerce they use many paid services like online chatbot, google Drive, Canva, Chatra, Isolta etc. Overall, the enterprise is ready to get to know new technologies and use them to improve their abilities.
- Good quality product
- It is not a charity but running on business principles
- Unique product that nobody has copied
- Ability to transform and live through crisis
- Lack of qualified workers with disability with specific knowledge and skills
- Relying on the manager of the enterprise
- Developing B2B sector
- Finding a niche
- Working with the public sector
- Expanding the export
- Competitors who can do it faster and cheaper
- Ensuring the quality
- Not a typical “Social enterprise product"
Visit OWA here : https://www.owa.lv/