Skills, Weaving, Community, Employment for women in Tanzania

the story

WomenCraft is a community-driven social enterprise operating from Ngara, Tanzania. The enterprise’s mission is to boost economic opportunities for rural women in a post-conflict area. The country borders Rwanda, Burundi, and DRC who have all caused refugees to flee into Tanzania in recent conflicts.

the people

“Being part of the weaving group helps me have income to improve my family’s situation here. It also helps me deal with the difficult situation we are in – I have many friends in the group and we support each other with advice about resolving the struggles we are faced with.” – Women Craft Refugee Weaver

The organization was founded in 2007 in partnership with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). The model continues to be a peace-centric approach to bring together women from different countries with enterprise and a common goal.

the impact

Over 300 women including those in refugee camps are able to support their families better, provide for education and school fees, as well as inspire their peers and communities. Many of the women take on more responsibilities within their weaving groups and learn marketing and leadership skills as well. Refugees and women of their host country work together with a common purpose, building bridges in an otherwise difficult situation.

Burundi Refugee Basket Line:

In 2017, Women Craft started a collaboration with UNHCR to develop a new product collection made by Burundian refugee women artisans. Through Women Craft, refugee artisans gain access to premium international markets, generating reliable incomes which strengthen refugee resilience and restore their sense of self-determination.

The weaving started as a way to improve the lives of the refugees. Not only does it give them a sense of purpose, income, but also community and hope. Sadly, most artisans cannot imagine ever going back to Burundi. Given what they have witnessed, they say they could never be at peace as violence could return to their communities at any time.

The weaving income is used mostly to buy food for the family to supplement the insufficient rations provided. In addition, incomes are used to buy clothes for their kids. Many also save parts of their weaving income to invest in opening up their own small secondary businesses in the camp – having a small breakfast place or trading with essential food items like rice and beans bought in the host community market.

There are almost no income opportunities within the camp. Outside the camp, it is illegal for refugees to work. Leaving the camp, refugees need a special permit each time which is often a hassle and likely only to be denied. Your support means a future, and a beautiful connection to a woman on the other side of the world in a time of need. Thank you for supporting Women Craft.

“We want our customers to know that we are ready for their orders…”

When asked what they would like customers around the world to know about them and their lives they say: “We want our customers to know that we are ready for their orders, as many as we can get! Our products are beautiful, and we would be excited for customers to tell their colleagues, friends and family about them, so they can also place an order and help us improve our families’ situation in the camp.”

tradition and modernity

Part of WomenCraft success is the result of innovation in linking tradition with modernity. This approach features throughout the product designs and in the sustainable business model combining traditional skill-sets with modern digital operations management systems.

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Photo Credit: WomenCraft