Elimu Sewing Project

Digital technology and a sewing trade upgrade these young women’s status in their communities.

Now my parents look to me for support – I am no longer a burden!

How Sewing Makes a Difference

In rural Kenya, there are no clothing shops or department stores and school uniforms are a must for every student. So, running your own sewing business is a stable income generator. With a business and an income, a young woman becomes an independent member of her society.
She puts her younger siblings through school and becomes a voice for her family. She gets to make choices for her own future.

The Challenges She Faces

In Kenya, especially in the coast where Elimu is situated, a rural girl’s future is often one of early marriage and lack of formal education. Without high school or college, a girl in Kenya has no choice for her future. Fathers and uncles make the decisions – whether she will go to high school or not, who she will marry, and when she will marry.
She can even end up as a second or third wife which means house and field help for that family. Child bride marriages can involve girls as young as 12. High school has costly school fees and so the limited finances more often go to educating boys. Many rural communities practice witchcraft which ostracizes and terrorizes the victim, and female genital mutilation, known as female circumcision, is not uncommon.

Local Solutions to Local Challenges

Elimu sponsors girls to Heri Ministries Sewing Project, a 2-year training program that equips them with income generating skills and a sewing trade. The college was established in 2002 by a Kenyan woman with a vision of providing more than just technical skills. The school offers a positive, Christian-based learning and living environment and personal counselling. The course normally takes two years and prepares students for the Kenya National Trade Certificate exams making them officially certified artisans.

Entrepreneurship and Digital Skills

Students of Elimu Sewing Project meet at Elimu Resource Centre for entrepreneurship and computer training to enhance and modernize their trade skills. They learn to master digital technology to gain exposure to new designs and creatives ideas. Their modern skills enhance their competitive edge back in their home villages and they are seen as leaders.

Elimu Girls (USA) – engaging U.S. audiences for girl empowerment

Our partners, Elimu-USA are based in Los Angeles and focus on Elimu Sewing Project, raising funds and awareness through their Elimu Girls campaign. Founder, Cindy Rodriguez, came to Malindi in 2012 where she was touched by the struggles of girls in rural Kenya. Inspired by the transformation she witnessed through Elimu Sewing Project, she begun discussions to contribute with Elimu founder, Nina Chung. This is how Elimu Girls was born.
Elimu Girls focuses on engaging U.S. audiences to support the empowerment of vulnerable rural Kenyan girls through Elimu Sewing Project. Elimu Girls is part of Elimu-USA an official 501(c)3 charitable organization registered since 2013.

Project Impact

At graduation, we provide these young women with a new sewing machine so they can immediately start their own sewing businesses. Running a business and gaining income radically alters a young woman’s status in her community, transforming her into a provider, advisor and role model.
With a business and an income, a young woman becomes an independent member of her society. She puts her younger siblings through school and becomes a voice for her family. She gets to make choices for her own future.

Artisan Maker Space – boosting income generation for sewing artisans

Thanks to the support of the Trebek Family Foundation, Elimu set-up our exciting Artisan Maker Space at Elimu Resource Centre. The Space provides modern textile equipment and resources including internet access which these young artisans cannot find in their villages nor afford to buy for themselves.
This initiative also provides an effective solution for keeping connected with our sewing alumni. There are over 100 women who have started their own sewing businesses thanks to Elimu sponsorships and another 200 who were not sponsored by Elimu but who also joined us at Elimu Resource Centre for additional training in business skills and digital literacy. The Maker Space was designed with them in mind. We are currently working to develop training programs that will give them access new income generating skills such as creating textile products like handbags and recycled garments, and other craft ideas like block printing and beadwork to boost their income generating potential and grow their businesses.

About Elimu

Elimu empowers learners to increase academic and digital literacy, improve school retention and encourage self-sustainability through employment planning and entrepreneurship. 

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Elimu is the official trade name of Elimu Development Projects, a registered Canadian charity. BN 828374314.

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