Rwanda: Mayange weavers making sustainable income from exporting baskets to Japan, USA and Europe
COOVAMAYA – Imirasire (Cooperative de Vannerie de Mayange), is a weavers’ cooperative started in 2007 to give to subsistence level women farmers in Mayange another way out of poverty. Indeed, their farming activities in Mayange, a drought-ridden area in Bugesera District in Rwanda would not allow them to make enough profit to afford food, clothing and healthcare services for their families. The cooperative has grown from one year to another and now has 120 members.
With this opportunity of weaving marketable handcrafts (fruit baskets, peace baskets, coasters, placemats and etc), the women have been able to invest in the future generation of Rwanda, by sending their children to school and providing quality healthcare for their families: expenses that are unaffordable without steady income. The women feel an overwhelming sense of confidence and self-assurance with their new-found ability to provide for themselves and their families, enabling them to stand tall in their communities as role models for peace and prosperity.
Handcrafts market in Africa rely on tourists or linkage with retailers based in Europe or North America, Mayange weaver’s cooperative tried to strike a balance by searching for local and overseas handcrafts markets. Through Millennium Promise, Mayange weavers were linked to various buyers; Tommy Hilfiger,One Campaign, Women for Women International, Indego Africa and various individuals from USA and Europe.
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