Expansion sewing training centre in Tanzania
Tabora, Tanzania

The Van Doorn Foundation supported NDD with the expansion of a sewing workshop / training center and with the development of a business plan to improve the sustainability and self-reliance of the training center.

The courses are going well; after the training, the girls receive per group a number of sewing machines, learn to obtain orders in their neighborhood / village and set aside a monthly amount for the repayment of the machines received for the group and for the purchase of additional machines.

Project has been executed successfully!

Amount collected: € 4,900.-

Project information
The situation

Tabora is one of the poorest if not the poorest region in Tanzania. Its school enrolment rate is the lowest (55.9% compared to 76.8% nationally), its literacy rate the lowest (59% compared to 78%) and – not surprisingly – the female population are in the most disadvantaged situation. The majority of girls in Tabora face serious marginalization as a result of cultural, social and economic factors. Most are denied the right to education and self-advancement. In most of the communities girls are not supposed to own or control any property. For these reason the girls remain dependent to their male counterpart. In Tabora the number of girls accessing education is very low and this low level of school attendance is not necessary due to lack of resources but is as a result of male parents having no value for girls’ education.

The importance of the project

NDD started in 2013 with activities focused on women’s economic empowerment, skills development, handicraft, entrepreneurship and basic literacy skills. Soon thereafter NDD shifted its support more towards community education and advocacy work. The major aim of the organization is to empower girls to help themselves to overcome violence and poverty through capacity building and offering relief services to most vulnerable and marginalized groups. NDD wants to promote human development based on local initiatives and locally available resources.

As part of this, NDD has set up a sewing workshop / training center in Tabora. The aim – among other things, is to sensitize the Tabora community on the rights of girls. NDD wants to organize initially 30 girls, selected by the community, and raise their social awareness, develop their sewing and tailoring skills. They will also be provided with a micro-credit in the form of a sewing machine and materials needed for the production of quality clothing for women in their locality and they can use a showroom for the exhibition of their products and receive orders.

The implementing organisation

New Direction for Development [NDD] is a local, non-governmental and non-profit organization in Tanzania that wants to reverse this trend of outright discrimination and marginalization of girls by working towards the economic and social empowerment of marginalized communities. NDD was established to address fundamental women’s girls and children problems in the region.

The envisaged project results

The requested support from NDD to the Van Doorn Foundation consisted of the expansion of the existing (sewing) training center. This project has been designed following the lessons learnt from earlier support in the field of women economic empowerment. Several focus group discussions have taken place where the young women and girls identified their preferences and needs regarding this project activity. They identified current gaps in women’s welfare and were closely involved in the design of this proposal and to ensure their continued commitment and ownership of the project. The girls are trained as peer educators and have an important link function with other girls / young women in the community.

At the start, the training centre had only a blackboard, chairs and tables, six sewing machines, two cutting and design tables, two ironing tables and two irons. There were two teachers, a well-developed syllabus and textbooks for the training. The expansion required financial support to procure 30 new sewing machines; 15 sewing machines to be used in the training centre, the other 15 to be made available as micro-credit. In addition, tools were needed (such as scissors, needles and pins, tape measures, etc.) and materials (fabric, thread, zippers, etc.).

The chance of sustainability

The Van Doorn Foundation assisted NDD first with the development of a business plan to ensure the training centre will not only be expansion in terms of capacity but will at the same time enhance its sustainability and self-reliance.

This resulted in an interesting approach: NDD provides a 2-month basic training in which the girls learn sewing and tailoring skills. A minimum fee is charged for the training. During the subsequent 10 months, the group will gain practical experience under the leadership of the girl (coach) who has shown the most entrepreneurial skills. The group receives sewing machines and the necessary materials to start their group business. This in kind start-up capital must be paid back in 6 months at an interest rate of 1% per month, far less than the average market interest rate of 3% per month. The profit of each group is initially used to repay the starting capital allowing NDD to purchase new machines for the next group. The rest of the profit is used by the group to purchase additional sewing machines for its members.

The investment and operational cost for the first year were estimated at € 8,600. The center would be self-supporting in the following years. NDD has contributed € 3,900 which it financed from NDD members contributions, tuition fees, from the sales of products (clothes) made by the trainees and possible contributions from sponsors. The Van Doorn Foundation provided € 4,700.

The progress of the project

In January 2017, the training for the first group of 30 girls started (half a day theory / tailoring to 15 girls and half a day practice / sewing to the other 15 girls) making use of the sewing machines purchased with the funds from the Foundation. After the basic training, the first 30 girls would be organized in 3 groups of 10 girls and start income generating activities with 5 sewing machines (made available on the basis of a microcredit). However, the basic training for the first group was extended up to 8 months due to delays in obtaining funds to buy sewing machines for the first 30 girls trained – that did not happen until September 2017.

The courses are now running well; the girls can now receive orders from their neighborhood / village and put aside a monthly amount (saving) to pay back the sewing machines received on micro-credit and to purchase another 5 machines. A staff member from NDD attends the group meetings and facilitates group formation and dynamics, in terms of identifying problems, group resolutions and decision-making process, leadership development, keeping an administration, and reviewing the weekly savings.

The result

In July 2017, the training of a new group of 30 girls started. This second group are using the 15 sewing machines available for the training and again, 15 girls follow half a day theory (design / cut) and 15 girls following half a day practice (sewing). Because – due to the delay in early 2017 – the first group have not yet repaid their sewing machines while the second group completes the basic training, and should also receive sewing machines on credit, an application was submitted to the Tools4Change Foundation for 15 extra sewing machines.