Sewing the seeds of change in Uganda
Simple tools like sewing machines can make a real difference to women’s lives in rural Uganda. They can use them to make and repair their families’ clothes and craft new items to sell at local markets.
Our Sipi Women Economic Empowerment Project (or SWEEP for short) has been set up in partnership with Kawacom, our coffee supplier in Uganda, to provide local female farmers the opportunity to improve their livelihoods by helping them gain access to training in basic financial and business management skills coupled with practical training in tailoring.
Many of the women involved in the project have come from particularly challenging backgrounds – they may have been widowed or divorced, be raising children alone on very little income or due to unplanned or unwanted pregnancies and marriages, had to drop out of formal education at an early age.
As well as being a useful day to day skill, tailoring can not only reduce household costs otherwise spent on buying clothes or school uniforms for children, it can also provide a potential source of additional income which will go directly to the women involved.
In addition to the practical tailoring skills, women taking part in SWEEP have also started receiving financial literacy and entrepreneurship training that aims to help them set up and make use of community saving schemes. These schemes can help give women access to micro-loans – something that traditional financial systems are often unable to provide to rural communities.
Women can then use these small loans to buy their own sewing machine or set up their own local businesses. On top of this, women participating in the programme will also benefit from having a social network they can call on for support which can often increase the impact of formal training.