Empowering communities, one stitch at a time.
As part of our female empowerment initiative, we started a social enterprise named the ‘Women’s Sewing Circle’. Our circle empowers women economically and socially, while supporting Baobuyu’s wider empowerment projects.
In 2019, we debuted ‘doggie’ bandanas for our four-legged friends. After trialling the bandanas with family and friends, we sold them through various outlets in the US, UK, The Netherlands, Canada and Zambia. And, so, the ‘African Dog’ was born! Since then, our craftswomen have added beautiful purses, tote and yoga bags, Christmas ornaments and laptop bags crafted out of African chitenge fabric. Chitenge is a bright, durable material which features a variety of African-inspired traditional and modern prints.
Not only do we want to train our women in the art of sewing and tailoring, but to become self-sufficient in all aspects of running a successful enterprise: including marketing, sales, customer service and finances. Our business model shares profits made from the sales between the women and the school.
It is estimated that only 27% of girls in Zambia complete secondary school, and among the poorest of children this falls to 3% (UNICEF, 2019). Each bandana and tote bag symbolises a step forward in breaking this cycle of poverty. Our hope is that this training will pave the path to independence through the establishment of their own micro-enterprises in the future.
The ‘Sewing Circle’ is in its early stages but we are excited to see it thrive and expand. In time, we hope to welcome more women from low socio-economic backgrounds into the group. By sharing their passion and skills across generations, we also hope that the women will spark a ripple effect within their communities, with every woman determining the course of her own future.
Tammy, the Director of Baobuyu, shares what the initiative means to her:
“I truly believe that empowering women will end the cycle of poverty. Our artisans have demonstrated the passion and commitment needed to make a change within their lives and within their children and grandchildren’s lives. They come to work with happy hearts, an eagerness to learn and a willingness to become a better person each and every day. My dream is for the women to have their own thriving businesses one day. I want their lives to change for the better.”
If you are interested in purchasing or selling our products in your country, please do not hesitate to get in touch with us. We may even be able to arrange a special delivery via DHL, visitors or friends returning home from Zambia!
Meet the Artisans!
Through different workshops, I’ve learnt the importance of saving, which has brought me closer to my dream of owning land one day. Being a member of the ‘Sewing Circle’ has given me a sense of purpose, independence and motivation.
I am proud that I have gone from knowing nothing about sewing to being able to share my knowledge and train other women in the circle. I am passing on the skills I have learned to my daughter to help her grow her future. I have the courage to be a strong, independent and unshakable women who is a good role model to other single mothers in the community. My hope for the future is to see my daughter, Lydia, finish school and go to college.
“The circle has really changed my life from the time I started. I wasn’t expecting to ever learn to sew, but now that I have this skill it means everything. I never had the opportunity to go to college, but now I can use this new skill to do bigger and greater things in life.”
I’ve always had a passion for hand-sewing. As part of the ‘Sewing Circle’, I’ve learnt how to use a sewing machine, cut patterns, set targets and to grow in confidence. It’s given me a sense of belonging. My biggest achievement is making 500 reusable pads for vulnerable girls in rural villages. I hope to use my sewing skills to support other girls and young women at home and in the community.
In the future, I’d like to finish building my house and to continue providing for my family. I’d love to buy my own sewing machine one day, too.
I enjoy working with a close team of women. I’m thankful for the opportunity to pass these skills onto my children. I take the empowerment I feel here, as part of the circle, home with me. It makes me a better mother and a better member of the community.
In the future, I’d like to become self-sufficient and buy a settlement for my family where I can grow potatoes, plant vegetables and keep chickens. My main goal is to uplift other women in the community and those who are vulnerable, like orphans and older people.
I’ve found a passion for sewing and I’m thankful for this opportunity. My proudest achievement, so far, is adding ‘poppers’ to all the reusable pads. I did this during my first few days of being in the circle.
I enjoy working together with the other women in the circle. We all support each other and have a job within the process of making our products. I especially like sewing the tote bags and putting in the zips of our travel bags.
My hope for the future is to move into my own property one day and raise chickens. I can’t wait to see Blessing, my daughter, grow and finish pre-school at Baobuyu.
“I’m very happy with what I have done in the sewing club and enjoy being able to manage my own life and help my family. It has opened up my mindset and has given me focus to help improve my life and my future to come.”
I joined the Sewing Circle having no experience and no idea about sewing, but even in a short time I have learned a lot of skills. I love being part of the group and being able to work alongside the other women. We support each other to learn and grow.
My hope for the future is to earn enough money to purchase my own plot of land. I would love to raise goats on the land. This would give my family and future generations security and independence from renting.
“In the beginning I was unsure about the sewing circle. But now having seen what I have seen, I see how the future of the circle is something great and beneficial. I am learning new skills that I can use to help myself. I want to encourage my daughter to acquire similar skills.”
I have been sewing for 10 years. I first learned the art of sewing and tailoring to be able to support myself. At first, I didn’t enjoy it – but now, as I have gained more experience, I love the satisfaction of completing my sewing projects. It is very rewarding to be able to pass on my knowledge to the other women to help raise them up, too. Being in the circle has been a positive shift from working alone as a tailor.
Being part of the Sewing Circle allows me to support my two children as a single mother. I am proud to use my skills to provide for my family and to create a future for myself.
“I’d like to continue working in the Women’s Circle at Baobuyu as it has helped me to manage time and money. I have enjoyed learning to sew different types of bags.”