KUMI TAILORING PROJECT
By Isabelle Granville Smith
Kumi – ten in Luganda. The school established the Kumi Tailoring Project for Life Foundation in October 2013. Initially a vocational training program, the project granted the opportunity to learn a trade to women in the village of Katuuso (about an hour west of Kampala). Upon gaining momentum, it became apparent that the products of these aspiring tailors were in demand — in the Kampala marketplace and beyond. Consequently, the project was able to offer gainful employment to women in Katuuso producing fine kitenge apparel and home wares.
With Ugandan designer and master tailor Winnie Akol at the helm, the project has leapt from a modest dream and rapidly developed into a workforce of 10 creative, talented and inspired craftswomen; with Kumi emerging as a Ugandan fashion brand in its own right.
From inception, Akol has fulfilled her dream of sharing her skills and knowledge with women who have not had the chance to acquire an education. She is the creative driving force behind the budding social enterprise her enthusiasm and patience is unparalleled as she guides the tailoring staff through the trials of challenging designs, custom-made orders and staffing market stalls.
The Katuuso workshop is a hub of happy, lively energy where in spite of the normal work pressures there is a persistent cheer and family-like closeness between colleagues. Here women are able to bring their babies to work – allowing them the freedom to earn a living whilst still caring for their children. Prior to working with Kumi most village women were dependent upon subsistence farming, which is an unreliable source of both food and income. The wages earned working with Kumi lifts women’s social and familial status, increases financial independence, and improves self-esteem.
Aside from vocational training and steady employment, Kumi Tailoring Project employees also benefit from adult education in applicable subject areas such as English, mathematics and handwriting. As experience with many different education delivery systems has demonstrated, educated women and mothers are more inclined to prioritise the education of their children whole families may benefit from a broader range of future opportunities.
The Kumi brand has presented a transformational opportunity for women with few prospects. There is true pride in the quality of the wide range of merchandise produced; Kumi garments and accessories are an exciting fusion of bold African kitenge with beautiful, practical and resourceful designs. The result is a distinctive, must-have collection of apparel and accessories that will be cherished.
Not only will your fabulous piece invite compliments and create a stir wherever you go, but you can be confident that 100% of your purchase proceeds are reinvested to support the program and its participants.