Women's Shoe Production in Bangwe
Project Launch: 12-23-18
The project is targeting vulnerable young women that are living in risky environments due to lack of employment that exposes them to various abuses. These women fail to earn a dollar in a day to cover their basic needs and many turn to alcohol, drugs, and commercial sex work to numb their pain and make ends meet.
Current economic empowerment programs fail to specifically identify these young women as an important constituent group due to lack of proper engagement sessions with them. These young women come across challenges and feel underestimated because of their poverty and many do not proceed to report sexual and physical violations as many are given money to not proceed with the cases. The situation exposes these women to dangerous STDs, such as HIV, which greatly reduces their life expectancy. It is also very challenging because most of these young women have little formal education to find gainful jobs which usually require high school qualifications. This project will empower them with knowledge and skills in shoe designing and production so they can earn money on their own terms in a safe, productive, and affirming manner.
Project Update: 3-6-19
After two months of implementation, 13 youths (3 boys and 10 girls) between the ages of 18-35 have registered and are being trained in shoe designing and production. The participants have produced 67 pairs of shoes, of which 10 pairs were distributed to the participants as motivation for the work done. This has helped the participants own a pair of shoes in the process, saving the resources they would have used to buy shoes for other equally important needs. To test the market, 11 pairs of shoes have been sold generating income the group needed to buy additional materials for their training. The project will be completed in March once all the participants have mastered the necessary skills and knowledge of shoe designing and production. Meanwhile, the participants are happy with the knowledge gained that will enable them to produce shoes for sale and for personal use. The group has already started making linkages with potential chain stores to sell the shoes on their behalf on commission basis.
The Women’s Shoe Production in Bangwe project trained ten women and three men in shoe design and production over the course of three months. In this time, the participants produced 112 pairs of shoes (74 gladiators for women and 38 sandals for men), out of which 52 pairs were sold and the proceeds used in procurement of more shoe making materials and shared amongst the participants. Four months post-training, seven of the participants have joined together to establish a shop in the community where they design and produce shoes for sale, thereby increasing their monthly household incomes from $10 to $91. The project has been recognized by the Ministry of Trade and Industry who are planning to incorporate the group in their animal skin production training program, which will allow the group to manufacture shoes from locally produced and treated animal skins.