Income generation and support for Artisans in Ruvuma, the Southern Highlands of Tanzania

Within the next four months with the support of NIPSA Global Solidarity and Developing World Fund, Tools for Solidarity (TFS), aim to have their new Ruvuma project, up and running. SIDO (Small Industries Development Organisation), who have strong links with TFS, was keen for the charity to set up a new project, similar to the tailoring project in Mwanza, Tanzania. The Mwanza project, which trains rural women’s groups in tailoring skills and sewing machine maintenance, has been running successfully since 2007; it has provided an excellent working model for this type of self-sufficiency project.

After visiting different areas in Tanzania and meeting with SIDO officials, the Ruvuma region in the Southern Highlands is in the South of Tanzania was chosen; as this is a poor area it was agreed that this project could have a beneficial impact, especially in terms of job creation and promotion of self-sufficiency. There were already some links between Mwanza, where Tools runs another project. Martin Changa, the Regional Manager for SIDO is in close contact with this project through a family link.

Martin will be directly responsible for the project but a workshop manager will also be appointed. A new member of staff will be sent to Mwanza for three months of training. Although the Mwanza project is not geographically close the projects will maintain a close working relationship through electronic communications.

A workshop in Sungea, the capital of Ruvuma, has already been identified by SIDO. Initially the project is planned to run for two years.

This region is economically poor and has little access to purchasing facilities for items such as tools and sewing machines. (Dar es Salaam, the largest city is 655 miles/1054 Km from Songea)

When the new workshop manager returns from Mwanza the container of tools and sewing machines will have arrived at Ruvuma. This shipment is due to leave N. Ireland in March 2018 and will hold 105 treadle sewing machines and tools.

The tools sets fall into two categories; 52 sets containing 20-25 small tools which are for young males who have completed vocational training at college. The rest of the 1000 tools will be available for purchase by local artisans such as wood carvers, shoe makers and auto mechanics. Compared to the usual Chinese imports these re-furbished tools will be of a much higher quality and fairly priced.
TFS will supply similar numbers of machines and tools in the second year of the Ruvuma project.

The Ruvuma project is to be self-funding so the tools and sewing machines will be sold, with all profits going back into the organisation to pay for training, workshop rent and maintenance.

The Ruvuma project will operate on the principal of promoting self reliance and independent working. The project will identify and target the beneficiaries from local artisan groups, vocational colleges and people with disabilities who will receive training in maintenance, technical skills and business management. Disabled workers will be provided with free equipment.