The sewing training was aimed at improving the lives of persons with disabilities directly by capacitating them with basic sewing skills and setting them up to run a business of their own. They could possibly also be employed in the clothing industry. Ultimately three groups of ten people each were trained.
To qualify for this project, candidates had to be young unemployed people with disabilities between the ages of 18-35 years and be from previously disadvantaged communities.The Association appointed the reputable Lowveld Sewing Academy to supply the sewing machines and conduct the training. Once the training was completed, the Association donated sewing machines and material to each group to start their own businesses. They have also been assisted with finding premises to work from.
Empower UNLTD is a project of the MAPD and is funded by the Industrial Development Corporation (IDC). The project was initiated in 2022 and is divided into two sub-projects, one being a sewing factory and the other a sewing training programme, which ran from the latter part of 2022 until the middle of 2023.
The sewing factory was started towards the end of last year with the goal to create and sell products which would earn a steady flow of income for our organisation. If this project is successful, it could potentially finance the work done by our organisation to better the lives of persons with disabilities. The hope is that we can become less dependent on donations in the long term.
We manufacture bath and kitchen products, under the brand name Empower UNLTD, from natural loofah and cotton. This is an all-natural and biodegradable product range, which is the direction the world is taking now. Other products include reusable shopping bags made from shweshwe fabric, with the aim to cut down on plastic bags.
We have appointed 2 students from the sewing training programme in our factory.