In this post I highlight the efforts of The Bow Tie Events team of empowering women through fashion.Fashion is not all about the neon pink dresses, the monochrome trend and heeled sandals. It goes deeper. For instance, more often than not we haven’t a clue who made our clothes or the process that goes into garment construction. Most of the time clothes are mass-produced in factories by the impoverished in society under poor working conditions. These workers rarely have a choice .For many illegal immigrant workers there’s usually the looming fear of deportation. Away from that,the plight of women in Africa is also as real as it gets. Many lack the requisite skills or capital to make a living and end up depending on their husbands, some of who some pass away and leave women to fend for themselves and their children. Cherehani Africa joins the ranks of other local initiatives like shopsoko.com ,Kiko Romeo, Kazuri Beads and Vivienne Westwood in helping alleviate poverty in Africa through fashion. They’re giving women a way out by making them economically independent and providing them with the means to carve out a living.Here’s how…Straight from the horse’s mouth…Or rather the CEO’s ! Here’s Wesley,the CEO of the Bowtie Events for you…
- The work you’re doing is amazing. What is the Cherehani Africa initiative?
Wesley : Thank you so much for the compliment. Cherehani Africa is a social enterprise which works with partners to provide sewing machines to less fortunate women in rural areas in Kenya and it provides training to them on tailoring and fashion business to enable them start and run successful fashion businesses that will provide income to them. The initiative seeks to make dreams of several young women come true by making it possible for them to have ready income and cash flow through the tailoring skills that they will have learnt.
- When was it started? What inspired you to start it?
Wesley : Cherehani Initiative started this year. It was during the inaugural Africa Brand Summit, where I currently serve as the vice-chairman that we got the inspiration and challenge from the various speakers to build a brand that actually touches lives of people since it is such brands that last. The Bowtie Events was organizing great public events and other private events for different clients but there was need to make our efforts truly count. After this eye opening event, we sat down as a team to structure a sustainable way in which we were going to use fashion to make dreams possible. That is how Cherehani Africa Initiative was born.
- Who qualifies to join from the program? i.e, who does it aim to help?
Wesley : The applicants to this program are young less fortunate women who live in rural or semi-urban areas in Africa where diseases and poverty has ravaged. The potential beneficiaries are well vetted by the local religious institution or local administration body before the names are presented to Cherehani Africa. The beneficiaries are connected to the local tailor for training which takes 6 months to one year, depending on the speed at which the trainee grasps and the consistency with which the trainee attends the lessons.
- Say there are people who would like to get involved in the initiative, not necessarily undergo training, but assist in one way or the other. Is this possible? And how?
Wesley : We are spreading the word out to potential partners who would wish to join us in empowering less fortunate women through fashion. Shade Systems East Africa Ltd which is led by Eric Kinoti has expressed interest to work with us in this initiative and will donate some sewing machines to this initiative. Individuals may donate new sewing machines or used ones that may need repair to the initiative, we will coordinate to pick the sewing machines and deliver it to the beneficiaries – if the sewing machine needs any repairs we shall repair it before delivering. As an established tailor/designer you may volunteer to provide FREE training or coaching to the beneficiaries. One may also offer financial support that will be directed to buying the sewing machines, repairs, training and learning materials.
- How many women have so far been able to benefit from Cherehani Africa?
Wesley : We have so far identified 30 beneficiaries and tailoring trainers from different locations, who we are satisfied that have met our standards and we are in the stage of rolling out the machines. We also recognize that with partnerships, we may achieve much more and enroll so many beneficiaries to this initiative.
- What is your hope for the Initiative?
Wesley : We believe that true empowerment of women is when they are educated or trained in a specific discipline which enables them to earn a proper living through it. Cherehani Initiative hopes to make the dreams of the less fortunate women possible by offering them adequate training in tailoring and fashion business to enable them start their own business and earn a decent living. This will go a long way in contributing towards the sustainable growth of the fashion industry.
- How can people get in touch with The Bow Tie Events if they would like to or know someone who would like to partake in the program?
Wesley : The Bowtie Events offices are at 13th Floor, Landmark Plaza, Hurlingham Argwings Kodhek Road, Nairobi Phone contacts Tel: +254 20 3673 246 Mob: +254 703 041 246 Fax N0: +254 20 3673 231 Email – firstname.lastname@example.org Call me a feminist if you wish but I’m all for women empowerment. Enjoy the rest of your week! 🙂