Somali Women EmpowermentCommunity Need: Somali refugees come to the U.S. from a war torn region and are in great need of help in learning new life skills, vocational training and aid with the immigration process.  Most of the Somali refugees lack education and need help to successfully adjust to their new life in the U.S.  While labor statistics for the Somali community in Colorado are not yet available with precision, SCCC estimates the unemployment rate for Somalis of all ages and gender in Colorado at well over 60% As a comparison, the unemployment rate for Colorado in Feb. of 2009 was 7.2% (Colorado Department of Labor and Employment).


Somali Woman EmpowermentRecently, many Somali women have come to us asking for help to become better providers; some are raising and supporting their children alone.  Consequently, we are proposing to develop the Somali Women Sewing CO-Op as a project.  The idea was inspired by the success of an international organization known as SEWA or the Self Employed Women’s Association.  SEWA started in India as a way to help women develop their own businesses, create their own bank for savings and loans and work together to secure vital services like heath care.  SEWA has inspired economically disadvantaged women worldwide to gain strength and economic power as a group, benefiting themselves and their families. 





Concept - The Somali Women Sewing CO-OP:

The co-op will be modeled after SEWA, which has succeeded under the harshest conditions and should have a good chance of success in the U.S.  Our project will teach sewing skills to Somali women, which complements their cultural and life experiences and is something they enjoy doing.  The project will also teach the skills needed to effectively work together as a business enterprise.  The co-op will reduce costs like fabric, which can be bought in large, and maximize marketing through joint advertising and the sharing of leads.   

A group savings account will be established, which each member must contribute to on a month basis giving the co-op the ability to make emergency loans to its members. Recipients will be expected to pay back the loan as soon as possible based on the SEWA model. The co-o will also provide these women with much needed emotional security—that they are not alone in their situation and that by working as a group their chances of success grow significantly.  Furthermore, members will be able to work at home—a major advantage for those with children 

We plan to begin the program with 20 women, selected on their ability to attend training, their motivation to learn and change their lives, and their financial need. These criteria are embedded in a survey which is conducted in the Somali community as the first step in recruiting co-op members.  We have some community members whom already have sewing skills to jump-start training or leadership skills as the co-op will need leadership from within.  

The Program Started May 28, 2009Woman Empowerment

The Progress of the program:

Women are being empowered by our program to become educated in a sewing career and to become active in the workforce.