Sewing groups from four areas of Ndlambe will receive a boost of 57 sewing machines from the Department of Rural Development in partnership with Ndlambe Municipality to help the women further their sewing enterprises.
As a way of preparing them for the competitive market, the department and Ndlambe organised two weeks training which took place at Kenton-on-Sea Town Hall.
Local economic development (LED) manager Qawe Mampana revealed the importance of training beneficiaries before handing over the sewing machines. Citing previous experience, she said the sewing groups were once part of a programme, but their production was not at the standard required.
Mampana said the current training was in response to that. “Rural Development said it will provide the machines. We will also provide the technical skills so that when they actually get into the programme we know that they have been trained in technical skills,” she said.
Explaining their relationship with the Department of Rural Development she said, “We said, what do we do about these unemployed women? We looked at what avenues that we can use to assist these women. There is a programme that is being run by the Department of Social Development called school uniform. Now we are linked with National Development Agency (NDA), which is an agency of Social Development. We are also linked with NDA to assist us get an opportunity to get into that school uniform programme,” she said.
According to Mampana, the NDA came to do the assessment of cooperatives and identified those who were ready and those who were not.
“It was on the basis of the assessment that Rural Development assisted with the machines. We also realised that the assessment was not going to actually make these women get into the programme. It is about the quality of their work product that will ensure they get into the programme,” she said.
Mampana emphasised that the school uniform project was not the only thing that the beneficiaries would be sewing for, as some indicated that they would sewing for churches and weddings. She further mentioned that they would show trainees’ products to the NDA to help them market their products.
The trainees themselves raised concerns about lack of venues to operate in after the training. Mampana agreed that the issue of venue was a matter of concern but was adamant that the mayor together with the Department of Rural Development was working tirelessly to get the venues. She further stated that the official handover would depend on the availability of venues.
One of the things Mampana said they had discovered and was willing to change in the programme was that most women used sewing as a part-time and leisure job.