ITEZO’s skill training is an intervention in mitigating the economic hardships that already vulnerable women go through. Each Women's Empowerment project helps to equip them with skills that are helpful for them to earn a living and become useful members of the community. At the moment the women are trained in machine knitting, crochet and loom knitting. Since we started the knitting programs in 2001, we have been able to develop our own knitting curriculum that has an examination requirement by approved examiners and earns successful student a level 3 trades certificate. To date, over 400 women have been trained in machine knitting skills.
We have embarked on restructuring our programs and sustainability is at the fore of our minds, both for ITEZO and its beneficiaries. ITEZO cannot continue to fully depend on donor funds and has started generating its own income. Our programs will now develop as social businesses where all the profits made will be reinvested into empowering more women. We have to ensure that beneficiaries also become self-sufficient once our training has ended and so the set-up of the social business enterprises will be ran by the trained women.
ITEZO has created the Kuya Kwile Project as a social business enterprise for a group of its 4 trained women who graduated from the 2014 knitting school. The women have what it takes to make quality products that are suitable for export. With strategic partnerships in place, Kuya Kwile aims to address the issue of economic instability for the vulnerable women by ensuring that their newly acquired skills do not go to waste and ultimately augment an income that will contribute to improve their financial stability for sustainability as well as for ITEZO to empower more vulnerable women.
“Kuya Kwile” is a term translating to ‘infinity’ and the name was coined because the initial product is an infinity scarf. For the women, the name translated into forever-more - that their lives will change from now onwards.
As donor funds have become scarce and in order for ITEZO to become self-sustaining, the knitting school will now become a fee-paying school as there have been many well to do candidates that have expressed interest in taking the course. Yet for every class that is enrolled, vulnerable women will be granted scholarships for the course, and from this team of the vulnerable will emanate members that will grow the social business enterprise. Again, the fees from the fee paying students will be re-invested into ITEZO to grow its programs.
Below are some of the knitted/crochet items created by the Kuya Kwile team. Stay tuned for details of where items will be sold.