A group of passionate supporters raised more than $10,000 to fund the sewing center in Rwanda. And with that support, last week our sewing center, with 16 new sewing machines became a reality.
The Rwandan Government has encouraged the production of locally-made products, especially in the garment industry as part of its “Made in Rwanda” campaign. This has led to a strong demand for high-quality, affordable clothes within Rwandan communities. Women for Women International graduates who had trained in the skill of tailoring are needed now more than ever.
Earlier this year, Joy Rwamwenge, the Executive Director of the Urugo Women’s Opportunity Center, a social enterprise supported by Women for Women International, visited the United States. During her trip, she urged investors to support a place where women could learn a skill that would enable them to support themselves and produce useful products for their communities. A group of passionate supporters, with a lead gift from husband and wife, Kicab Castanedna-Mendez and Marta Chase, raised more than $10,000 to fund the sewing center. And with that support, last week our sewing center became a reality. This center, in the Kayonza district of Rwanda, boasts 16 sewing machines. Our graduates, who signed on for our three-month advanced training program will learn to sew professionally here so that they may better their own lives and support the needs of their community.
The introduction of this sewing center is an opportunity to increase women’s employment and to generate income for WfWI graduates. Their goods will be sold in our on-site marketplace and will dovetail with the Rwandan government’s “Made in Rwanda” initiative to support local clothing production and enrich the domestic market with locally made products.
“The exciting part of this sewing center is that it provides the opportunity for women to earn an income. Most of the women we would like to involve in the center have the basic skills but have not been able to put them to good use because they lack the equipment. This is their opportunity to improve their skills and become self-sufficient,” Joy Rwamwenge said.
While the center currently serves 16 women, Urugo Women’s Opportunity Center hopes to increase capacity and connect with local large-demand markets, including schools, hotels, and hospitals, that need uniforms. These large orders will allow the center to become sustainable, purchase more sewing machines, and serve even more women in search of work in the area.
“Our target is to serve over 100 women in the area through the sewing center so that they can lift themselves out of poverty,” Joy Rwamwenge said.