The term “cottage industry” has existed for many generations as a means to create manufacturing operations on a smaller scale.
In the simplest terms, a cottage industry constitutes a small business, usually related to manufacturing or production, and typically operated from the entrepreneur’s home. These opportunities were appealing in the past because while a community may not be able to economically support a major corporation, most can support a small business. As a result, owners face less financial strain. Over the past decade though, this approach to business presents life-changing opportunities for new entrepreneurs as well as substantial benefits for underdeveloped economies.
“Cottage industries play a significant role in the economies of developing countries. These economies may lack the capital and financial systems to support larger industries. It may be difficult for smaller firms to grow due to a lack of available capital or because of uncertainty relating to private property and legal rights.”
One motivation for many cottage industry entrepreneurs is that they can effectively work from the comfort of their own homes. This is especially essential for mothers who need to provide for their families or loved ones.
“The bonus for me is that I can work around my children, who are four, six and 11. Once they’re asleep at night I can carry on if there are still things to do.”
– Fashion Designer, Kirsty Hartley
The flexible schedule is the only option for many candidates who wouldn’t otherwise conform to the needs of a more corporate job. Business owners save on overhead costs like renting an office space or warehouse, and have a built-in community of support. With ‘buy local’ initiatives, neighbours are excited to support you rather than the corporate conglomerates that fill shopping markets today.
“Most states’ cottage food industry laws also allow goods to be sold at local farmer’s markets and roadside stands, which helps these local business enterprises to prosper. Neighbors get to know their neighbors and derive additional satisfaction from knowing they are helping a local family by purchasing their products.”
– Barbara Bean-Mellinger
As the Better Life Program continues to seek out more ways to positively change communities and lead to a more sustainable society, I find more and more interest in the underutilized possibility with cottage industries. For many jobless and unbanked individuals, this might open a door — just knowing that they have a skill and they can expand upon from it the comfort of their own home.