Miniya, Egypt (December 11, 2012) – Women in the upper Nile town of El Miniya have established two new clothing manufacturing workshops – creating jobs in the town’s low-income areas – through a partnership between Barclays, the Near East Foundation (NEF), and the Center for Development Services (CDS).
Since the project launched in August 2011, 30 women have participated in an intensive three-month training in sewing to learn how to produce school uniforms, which are required to attend school in Egypt.
The first 500 uniforms produced by the women were distributed free-of-charge to poor primary school students in El Miniya at a September 2012 ceremony organized by the Egyptian Ministries of Education and Social Affairs.
None of the women had sewing skills at the beginning of the project. Their training included learning how to work in teams and to develop a production line where each of them is responsible for making a different component of a uniform.
Since completing training, the women have been employed in one of the two new manufacturing workshops in their neighborhoods. They began producing uniforms in June 2012 and have since refined their manufacturing process so that a team of six can produce a complete uniform – pants, shirt, and jacket – in ten minutes.
The women are all from Abou Felew, one of the poorest villages in the El Miniya governate. For centuries, El Miniya was a thriving hub of culture and commerce along the Nile River. Today, it is dominated by poverty and a growing lower class.
“Having a job is a dream come true,” said one of the participating women. “It makes me happy to think of the child who will go to school in the outfit as I am making it.”
The 2011 uprising and ongoing strife in Egypt have significantly impacted already struggling communities – like El Miniya. The project was designed to create job opportunities and to help improve the local economy, starting at the grassroots level.
In the coming months, project partners will help the women develop a branding and marketing strategy, as well as connect them with suppliers who buy uniforms for the Ministry of Education.
NEF’s local partner, the community development association Benaa, has committed to provide technical, marketing, and sales services for two full years – until the women have developed their skills to achieve self-sufficiency in operating their equipment and their new business.
The Near East Foundation is a U.S.-based international development NGO leading innovative social and economic change in the Middle East and Africa. Founded in 1915, NEF has worked to empower citizens in disadvantaged, vulnerable communities for almost 100 years. NEF field staff – all of them from the countries in which they work – partner with local organizations to find grassroots solutions to their development challenges. Our “knowledge, voice, and enterprise” approach is helping build more prosperous, inclusive communities throughout the region. To learn more visit www.neareast.org.
With over 300 years of history and expertise in banking, Barclays operates in over 50 countries and employs over 145,000 people. Barclays moves, lends, invests and protects money for customers and clients worldwide. To learn more, visit www.barclays.com.eg.
The Center for Development Services is an employee-owned development entrepreneurial venture that uses innovative approaches to mobilize technical and financial support for development endeavors in Egypt and the Middle East. To learn more, visitwww.cds-mena.org.