[Note: we received the following from a Coalition for GSP member Nina Designs in Emeryville, California. We’re posting with permission. No edits were made except formatting for the website and deleting the last names of the women in Indonesia.]
My name is Nina Cooper and my company, Nina Designs, has been working to improve the lives of women in Indonesia and Thailand for over 30 years by providing secure jobs with benefits, fair wages and equal opportunity for advancement. Our company produces silver jewelry and jewelry making supplies.
The GSP is a key factor in our ability to grow our company over the years and provide opportunities for women to thrive. As you will see, their jobs in silver production have become a lifeline for extended families during the pandemic. Below you will find biographical details of three women who work at our production facility in Bali so that you can see how the impact of the GSP plays out over time.
Our Nina Designs community includes not only the wonderful artisans who craft our products but over 1,000 women jewelry designers in the USA who incorporate our silver charms and findings into their own jewelry. Most of these women work from their homes while raising children and homeschooling them during the pandemic. We also have 12 women working in California to keep our company running smoothly. They design and distribute our beautiful silver products. Finally, we have supported women artisans internationally through our microloan program which has lent over $200,000 to over 700 women in 30 countries. This complex and hard earned ecosystem of mutual support is in jeopardy unless you vote to renew the GSP.
I entreat Congress to reinstate the GSP so that my company can continue empowering women around the world.
“After graduating high school, I started work at Jani Silver 24 years ago as a silver smith because I loved the world of Fashion, especially jewelry. After work, in my free time, I used to teach myself English and computer. One day I asked my boss, Ibu Janet, if I could change to a position in the office. She explained that as I was such a productive smith, I would earn more doing that than data entry. I explained that I felt one day I could reach a senior management position if I was given the opportunity and then I would earn more. She laughed because I was so enthusiastic. I felt that I could combine my silversmithing knowledge with good management systems and when that proved to be true, I was so happy!
My husband, parents and my children all support me and my work. My salary supports not only my own family, but also my extended family. Since I started here, I married and had 2 children. I was extremely lucky that our company has a policy of 3 months paid maternity leave, or 6 months leave on 50% salary. During the Covid Pandemic, each staff member has received food assistance. I share mine with people in my village who don’t have any income now. I am very grateful that I was given opportunities to advance in my career. For several years I was a Materials / Logistics Planner and then Production Planner. Now I am the General Manager! This was beyond my wildest dreams when I started as a silver smith.”
“I have really loved working here for the past 19 years. The owner and management team are good people who really care about the staff. The income from my silver-smithing work is a huge help for all my family, including my parents in law, especially now that my husband lost his tourism related job.
We borrowed money (at 24% p/a) to build workers housing but now most people don’t have a job so they cannot afford to rent and just stay with their family in their village. So we also opened a small kiosk at the front of our house selling coffee, noodles, and farming supplies like chicken feed etc.
On my salary we can still eat well (but not as much meat as before) and educate our two children. Without my job, my family would be in a very difficult situation. The company pays the BPJS health insurance premiums that covers my whole family’s medical expenses. It also paid me twice for 3 months maternity leave.”
“I have worked here since I left school 22 years ago. I’ve always felt a strong sense of family both between me and my work mates and even between the management. Perhaps the most important thing is that with my salary, I am able to cover the living costs of my family, including my parents and pay for my two children’s schooling. My husband used to work in tourism but since the Covid pandemic began he has had no work. I am very grateful for my job.”