Mkomanile Craft is a tailor-made project supported by private donors aimed at developing and supporting female micro-entrepreneurship in the village of Msindo, Ruvuma region, in order to increase its economic and social independence.
The project started in 2007 when, in this village in the province of Namtumbo, a three-year sewing course was started. In 2011 some of the trainees were entrusted with the creation of a series of products to be sold on the Italian market: the experiment works and the group of artisans consolidates with the name of Mkomanile (in honor of the only Tanzanian warrior woman of the revolution of Maji Maji against the Germans in 1906). In 2013 the initial group of 8 seamstresses widened with new adhesions and a second group of craftsmen was created under the name of Juhudi, which is dedicated to the creation of eco-friendly accessories. In the same year, thanks to the involvement of an Italian designer, we started working on two lines of clothing and accessories: Mkomanile Classic and Mkomanile Eco, both made by combining traditional African fabrics with recycled materials (inner tubes, bags of plastic for rice and corn, beverage plugs and newspaper) using eco-compatible production methods. In this way, it is possible to compensate for the scarcity of sartorial materials and reduce production costs by respecting traditions and the environment.
MKOMANILE CLASSIC LINE
Mkomanile Classic is a line of accessories and clothes (bags, pc cases, clutch bags, tobacco cases and some models of skirts and trousers) that is completed by the home collection instead consisting of tablecloths, bedspreads, curtains and cushions, all made with fabrics and techniques traditional (kanga, kitenge, wax for fabrics and batick technique) and recycled materials. The distribution of the products took place mainly in Tanzania and Italy through informal and non-commercial channels, but the objective that we set ourselves is the sale through Fair Trade and a more widespread distribution on the national and European market.
MKOMANILE ECO LINE
Mkomanile Eco is a line of feminine dresses and accessories, created thanks to the union between the sartorial expertise of Tanzanian women and creativity and attention to details of the Italian fashion stylist Rosalia Guzzo. The line has not yet entered production and distribution to the market.
Some of the creations of Mkomanile Craft on our catalog:
EXHIBITIONS AND OFFICIAL EVENTS
Both lines of products have been presented on several official occasions, including the “So Critical So Fashion” fair in September 2013 in Milan and Fa ‘the right thing Sicily in November 2013.
A collaboration was then started with IIS Caterina da Siena of Milan, a technical institute specialized in the fashion industry, for the realization of a technical-cultural exchange between Milanese professors and students and Tanzanian seamstresses with the aim of jointly creating a new sartorial collection to be presented as a good practice of cooperation and comparison in the field of fashion at Expo 2015.
Two events were held, with the name “So African So Fashion”, to raise funds for the creation of the new line and to publicize the collaboration in May 2014 at the residence of the Ambassador of Dar es Salaam and in July 2014 in Catania at the cloister of S. Giuliano.
Mkomanile Craft is therefore a reality that arises from the desire to improve the socio-economic situation of the women of the village of Msindo and allow them a real process of empowerment within the family and society. In fact, like many women who live in rural Tanzania, even the women of this village in the deep Tanzanian south, face daily many problems related to their female condition.
As Janet Lupenza, director of the broader emancipation program for women in the MSindo district, which includes the Mkomanile project, explains: “Women who live in rural areas have economic problems because, apart from agriculture, it is the basic source income of Tanzanian families, there are no other profitable activities for women. Because of the patriarchal system, still existing in Tanzania, the family situation is also problematic and there is a disparity in rights between men and women. In this sense, they face many discrimination, domestic violence, lack of decision-making power and the disparity in family workload. In fact, it is women who take care of the housework and the growth of their children. Also at the political level, there are many disparities and few women hold institutional roles “.
To date, Mkomanile Craft involves an ever increasing number of women, offering them the tools to become autonomous economically. Among these, the formation of women on their rights and duties, their role in society and the recognition of acts of violence is fundamental. Therefore, by training them in micro-entrepreneurship, they also want to increase their self-esteem and awareness. For this purpose, the project management is based on a participatory methodology, leaving to the artisans a wide decision-making power.
Finally, with a wider view, the project’s further aim is to involve and sensitize men and society as a whole on women’s rights and respect.
“Through the micro-entrepreneurship courses I have strengthened and improved my small private tailoring business that I had activated before taking part in the project and I increased my creative skills. Through education to women’s rights, I have increased my self-esteem and have more confidence in my abilities. Now I am independent in my work and I know that, as a woman, I have the right to own my land, my spaces and my identity in society “(Berta Ngonyani, 29, artisan of Mkomanile Craft and warehouse manager).
The motto of the women of Mkomanile and Juhudi Craft is “Maendeleo ni vita – Development is a struggle!”
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