Women in Action
The Women in Action projects aim to help women establish and grow their own small business in the tailoring sector. The women receive a 6 month sewing course and 6 months of entrepreneurship training. This is followed by an “incubation” period, where they receive inividual support to begin their own micro enterprise: access to sewing machines, help to open a bank account, marketing assistance, or even just moral support. The first Women in Action project started in Caxito in 2015, followed by Cazenga in 2016 and Cabinda in 2017, with more projects opening in 2018 in Luanda and Benguela.
In Caxito town, Bengo, the Women in Action Project completed its second year of operation in 2017. The first group of 22 women completed the course and received their certificates in late November 2016. 10 of the women were selected to attend a period of work experience at Bengo Textile Factory. In the first half of 2017, Group 2 was in the concluding phase of their course, and worked on skirts, trousers and shirts, as well as clothes for a fashion show. They concluded the course on 22 March. Two new groups of women were enrolled, one to start training in early February and the other in April. Group 3 followed courses in literacy, life skills, sewing and entrepreneurship, while Group 4 began with entrepreneurship and life skills, moving on to literacy and sewing classes in the middle of the year. Dressmaking workshops taught the women all about the sewing machines themselves, and about how to make simple items, before moving on to taking measurements, calculating sizes, making patterns, cutting and finally sewing clothes. Participants attended literacy training, although a number of the women already had reasonable reading and writing skills. Quite a few, on the other hand, experienced problems assimilating all the new information received. Basic business skills lessons covered purchasing, stock, goal setting, persistence, systematic planning and monitoring, market research, and assignment of responsibilities. Life skills lessons treated Life skills lessons treated the following themes: household hygiene, prevention of diarrhea, personal hygiene, popular beliefs and the correct use of home remedies, causes of illness, how to look after a sick person, and nutrition. In collaboration with the Angolan Women’s Organization, the project established a workshop with 10 sewing machines to allow graduates of the course to continue perfecting their skills while producing goods for sale.
In Cazenga, a municipality of Luanda, Second Hand Clothes sellers can register to follow a sixmonth sewing course and a six-month business skills course. They can also choose to enrol a family member, thus accommodating the need for flexibility with respect to family enterprises. Open Days serve to raise awareness about health and hygiene, including reproductive health and nutrition, and are open to anyone who wishes to attend. Specially equipped training rooms at the ADPP Polytechnic School in Cazenga house the project, and are the setting for lessons and workshops. Preparations began in 2016, while the first courses began in February 2017, with participants learning how to use sewing machines, how to mend and alter clothes, how to make useful household items, and how to sew all manner of clothes from patterns or from own designs. Transforming and customizing clothes adds value to existing wares, and can help improve the sale of clothes at the women’s market stalls. The business skills course covers the basics of market research, stock buying, pricing, display, inventory, budgeting and business plans. Participants receive assistance with respect to opening a bank account and to register with the tax authorities, and project staff carry out monitoring of the women who complete the course.
Empowering women is about resources and oportunities, and where small changes can help bring economic security. Building on experience at Caxito and Cazenga Women in Action projects, ADPP developed a Women Entrepreneurs programme for Cabinda, Benguela, Zango and Ramiro, to provide those much needed resources and opportunities, in the form of dressmaking skills and business knowhow, followed by an incubation period. Women Entrepreneurs Cabinda began in October 2017, and has 55 women following the course. During the first three months of their six-month course, participants learned a variety of stitching techniques, how to take measurements, and the cutting and sewing of clothes for women. In the business skills course, they learned the basics of starting a micro enterprise. After the 6 months, they will enter an incubation period, where they have access to individual assistance as they start their own small enterprises. HIV/AIDS awareness and general health campaigns run parallel to the above courses, to help ensure the well-being of the participants and their families, and thus allow the women to concentrate on skills training and developing their businesses.