New Era (Windhoek)

Namibia: Tailoring Empowers Struggling Women

Windhoek — Five women in Tobias Hainyeko Constituency, who started their small tailoring business at home, now operate from a stall at the Nathanael Maxuilili Centre in Babylon for which they pay a modest amount in rent.

The women say they requested assistance in the form of sewing machines and sewing materials from the office of the Tobias Hainyeko Constituency councillor to extend their business, which they received in 2010. "Through the office of the councillor we received materials worth N$30 000 and we decided to go to a sewing school to gain more skills and knowledge for us to run our business," said one of the women, Helena Haindula.

Her business partner, Saima Shikulo, who is also a tailor describes the business as a success. "The business is doing quite well because we can now afford school fees, buy food as well as help our families and relatives," said Shikulo.

The tailors said they make dresses for all occasions, including traditional 'ondhelela' dresses, as well as wedding and graduation gowns. They say their dresses are affordably priced, because they live and do business in a constituency where more than half the residents are unemployed.

The 'ondhelela' dresses cost N$150 apiece, while wedding gowns cost N$2500 and N$1000 if they are rented. Graduation gowns are sold for N$700, but if the client brings his/her own material the gown will only cost N$300. Although the prices of their garments are affordable, they experience losses mainly through non-payment of debts owed to them, especially for the pricier garments such as outfits for brides and grooms.

"We only have customers from our area. But we are trying to get new customers from other constituencies by marketing ourselves more aggressively," said Shikulo.

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