Pocket Change - Women's Small Business Sewing Initiativee
La Zuncuya is a small village of approximately 150 families located in Northern El Salvador. The community struggles securing basic necessities like potable water and decent sanitation. One of the primary challenges for the community is lack of economic opportunities. There are no cooperatives or large businesses that employ members of the community, very few community members have any business training and none have formal employment, although many families sell soda and snacks out of their houses to earn a little extra money.
This project will provide support to Mujeres Emprendedoras, a newly formed women's group. Mujeres Emprendedoras is committed to learning new skills to create income-generating activities in the community and improve the quality of life of their families. The women’s group recently participated in a sewing and business course and is eager to learn how to take advantage of their newly acquired sewing skills and start a business. The grant will provide sewing machines, fabric and all the basic materials a seamstress needs to produce quality clothing. This project will enable the women to form a small sewing business to generate income and build their technical and administrative capacities, helping to empower the women as both leaders and entrepreneurs.
The women completed three months of business trainings, where they learned about teamwork, business plans, resources and sources of assistance, market analysis, cost analysis, and basic accounting. With their new sewing machines, the women learned how to make blouses, skirts, dresses, pants and other items. They networked with local tailors, who taught them more advanced skills, such as making dress pants. To culminate all their hard work and success, the women held a fashion show, where they presented their work to the community. Various community members have brought clothes to the women to help mend, which is helping the group gain a reputation and establish a customer base. The women's group is in talks with the local high school to make sport uniforms for the students and they are working on formally legalizing the group to provide them with more opportunities, such as trainings and partnerships. The project helped create a safe, positive and encouraging community for women in La Zuncuya, improve internal management of the women's group, ignite self-confidence, and make the women advocates for their own success.
"I like meeting with the women and learning how to make clothes. I already made a blouse for myself, and worked out how to make a skirt for my daughter too." - Yessenia, Project Leader
"I want to become a good seamstress, and I am working hard to learn." - Isabel, Project Participant
"I have loved seeing the women take pride in themselves and show themselves off, because it is all too common in my community to see women fade into the background." - Rachel, Peace Corps Volunteer
"Ruth's father approached me one day about the sewing project, and could not have been more positive. He had been wary about letting his daughter leave the house and attend the trainings, but once she came home with a dress shirt she made just in his size, he started to see the positive impact of her trainings. No one in the group has finished school past sixth grade, so the opportunity to learn a marketable skill is one of the few ways in which women can start to get involved in the informal and formal economy of the community. As Ruth started to come home talking about managing money and showed improvement in her sewing skills, her father became her biggest supporter and encouraged her and other women to learn as much as possible and take advantage of any opportunities they could, rather than spend all day at home." - Rachel, Peace Corps Volunteer
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