We caught up with second year Business Management student Rachel Ruff to find out how she has been finding her time on the social enterprise project Once Upon A Doug and what it means to her.
The Once Upon A Doug project has brought to light the different conditions in underdeveloped communities that we in the Western hemisphere are sometimes unaware of.
The situation in Wardha, an Indian region that has been harmfully affected by many economical, environmental and social factors, is not one that we are likely to be familiar with.
The purpose of the Once Upon A Doug social enterprise is to help people become familiar, and in doing so, aid the women in Wardha and surrounding regions to earn a sustainable secondary income. This is done through the creation and sale of Doug’s which are a cloud shaped fashion accessory. The word Doug comes from the Marahti word ‘cloud’ and symbolises the foundations of this project - Clouds, Cotton and Communities.
The project has been running for a few years now and previous cohorts have had amazing successes, including the involvement of Salesforce and new product development of a personalised ‘Salesforce’ cloud. This year, we have had the opportunity to build on the ground-work of previous years and gain additional new companies support. This has been done through networking to gain contacts, visiting flagship stores, communicating with directors of large organisations and introducing them to Doug and our mission.
No matter where your interests lie there is a role within the Doug team! We have to work with Companies House to register as directors, we create and manage events, oversee finances, project manage, communicate with internal and external sources and discuss innovative ways we can move the enterprise forward. There is also a strong element of marketing, whether that be social media, creating campaigns, producing content for emails and leaflets – anything that helps raise our brand! The next part of the project is to actually visit these women in India and experience their culture, stories and learn how they make Doug. I have heard it’s not as easy as it looks! It will be a great opportunity to put faces to the lives we are trying to change.
The project gives you a real understanding of the importance of Corporate Social Responsibility and how significant it is to organisations. It also brings home how important it is to be socially aware of your own actions and is a real learning curve.
So far the project has given me a great sense of teamwork and what it is genuinely like as an entrepreneur starting out with a small product, trying to grow it into a sustainable, competitive and popular brand that has a great meaning.