Women Entrepreneurs In Apparel

  • Community Growth
  • Business
  • Women & Gender
  • Colombia
This project is led by Joshua Concannon, a Volunteer from Missouri

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This project is a clothing workshop made up of women in under resourced areas with few opportunities but who are very motivated to learn a new trade and use it to provide for their family. With the support of numerous local foundations, 20 unemployed women from the local community were given scholarships to attend a technical institution where they are learning to design and make clothing. In addition to classes, and with the support of veteran students, the women are creating a workshop in which they can produce and sell clothing after they learn how to make it, funding their operations and providing an additional income for each woman’s family. Clothing production is an untapped market in the community, all clothing providers are in a nearby city; this leaves a necessity in the community that the workshop can satisfy. The workshop plans to produce specialized orders from its customers, for distributors such as clothing stores and shops in the nearby city, as well as out of its own location for people in the local community. The workshop will operate as a business as it accompanies the weekly fashion design and tailoring classes at a local institute. The goal of the workshop as an entrepreneurial project is to satisfy a need in the community: the lack of local sources of clothing and fashion. But more importantly, the workshop will begin a gradual diversification of the local economy, which can lead to more jobs and opportunities. Specifically, these grant funds will contribute to the purchasing of four sewing machines that can be used during and after the workshop.

The community is the driving force behind the project and that is apparent through the local leadership involved in it. A couple community leaders have lent their support, such as the founder of an organization that serves the Afrocolombian population of the nearby city and its surrounding towns. The leaders of the workshop - three local women who former students of the institution and residents of the local community that now teach the classes - are real drivers behind the project. For example, when the institution temporarily did not have a location to give the classes to the ladies, one of the women immediately put forward her house as a temporary location, just so they wouldn’t get off track that semester. Lastly, all of the benefactors of this project are the residents of the local community, including the students and workers in the workshop, as well as the general public because it will attract money from outside the community, as well as keep more of the local money within the community.

With respect to the women who directly participate in the classes and workshop, they will spend ample time acquiring knowledge about the clothing and fashion industry from the professionals at the local institute, the institute which has more than 20 years of experience in the field. Further, this will all be accompanied by training in the areas of entrepreneurship and business management given by Peace Corps representatives and a local counterpart. Other themes the project with resonate on is teamwork, sustainability, and female empowerment. With regards to the local community at large, with this project underway, it will grow in its capacity to break into a market and make positive change in the community. They will also be more capable of obtaining jobs outside the typical agriculture sector.

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