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Local tailoring and carpentry

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Professional craftsmen, such as dressmakers and carpenters, concentrate in big cities in Ghana – but there is also demand in the countryside. This project enables local youth to fill this gap and offers them a chance to start their own business. Suglo developed a training programme that was rooted in learners’ needs.

Key words:

  • Master craftsman
  • Carpentry
  • Tailoring
  • Self-employment

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Activities

  • Suglo engaged in the following activities to develop the content of the training programmes:
  • Setting out the intended outcomes and broad objectives of the training. This decision was taken after a careful study of the survey, conducted at the workplaces of the master carpenter and tailors involved in the project.
  • Selecting the content that would best fit the market needs and the backgrounds of the beneficiaries (i.e. the master carpenters and tailors). The selection was made based on the needs of the beneficiaries identified in the survey.
  • Designing experiential training methods and testing the modules. The exchange with the Dutch partner worked well here. Part of the training for tailors was developed by a retired teacher and adapted to the local context by Suglo. Certain  ‘Dutch’ techniques and designs are now used by master tailors in Tamale, and these are appreciated by customers.
  • Delivering training.

The training designed for this project included vocational training through apprenticeships, entrepreneurial skills training and proficiency training for master craftsmen.

Stakeholders

  • Local and international partners were involved in these activities. They included:
  • An association of tailors and carpenters responsible for the design and delivery of vocational training through apprenticeship. These associations include the Woodworkers and Carpenter Associations and Tailors and Dressmakers Association. These two associations are well-established groups of artisans that are registered with the Registrar Generals Department of Ghana. Suglo took advantage of their existence and formed partnerships with them to facilitate the training process.
  • The Empretec Ghana Foundation, which was responsible for the design and delivery of entrepreneurial skills training.
  • WoodWare Companion and NSCT (both from the Netherlands), responsible for the design and delivery of training on proficiency training for master craftsmen (Step 5).

Resources

Human and material resources were used. The human resources used include technical and management experts from the partner organizations in Ghana and the Netherlands. These partners provided training in their expert fields to students and selected master craftsmen. The resources used included motorbikes, rented cars, paper, computers, cameras, projectors, etc.

The budget covered training, which cost €12,750, and apprenticeship training at a cost of €6,000 for 150 apprentices. Training costs were covered in cash and in kind. Our pre-project survey revealed that the average fee for a year’s apprenticeship training was about €75 (equivalent to GH¢360). Due to limited resources, Suglo had to lobby the master craftsmen to reduce this to €40 (equivalent GH¢ 192), to enable us cover these costs without putting unnecessary pressure on the budget.

Results

The training programme had a number of positive impacts. For example, 150 youths received entrepreneurial skills training. They are now practising record-keeping, producing quality products, and providing customer care whilst undergoing training at various workshops. Students are monitored twice a week in the field to ensure that they are practising the skills they have learned in the workshops. It is encouraging to note that our data from the field show that beneficiaries are indeed practising these new skills.

Lessons learned

Both the master craftsmen and the beneficiaries benefited from training, as the master craftsmen acquired new knowledge and beneficiaries developed new skills.

Training master craftsmen in an apprenticeship programme is a cost-effective way of reaching a larger number of trainees indirectly. There is no need to reinvent the wheel; borrowing from existing modules and adapting them to your context makes the development of training much easier.

This was facilitated by the cooperation and commitment of the partner organizations.

Recommendations

  • Monitor and guide trainers in their selection of training content by providing the necessary capacity.
  • Support the designing of training models and methods.
  • Offer support during training, especially by helping transport students to the nearest health centres and lobbying for students to get financial assistance to help with the cost of training materials and accommodation (for those who have to travel long distances to training centres), and by insisting on guiding rules and principles.
  • Build in mechanisms such as broad project goals and outcomes, contractual agreements between master craftsmen and Suglo, an MoU between students and community members regarding the establishment of shops, and a final evaluation of the project to assess whether training has been successful.
  • Share information and experience with stakeholders. The information shared between partners in this project includes reports, project documents, correspondence and experience, as well as expertise in various fields. This is to ensure the transparency and accountability of partner organizations responsible for the effective implementation of the project.

Project sheet Suglo (PDF)

Summary

Professional dressmakers and carpenters are needed not only in big cities in Ghana, but also in the countryside. This project enables local youth to fill this gap and offers them a chance to start their own business.

Short facts
Sector: Crafts
Lead partner: Suglo N-Nya Behiagu Women’s Association
Overall budget for the project: € 56,523
Learn4Work contribution: € 18,852
Partner contribution: € 37,671
Implementation period: April 2014- December 2016

Shopping in the City

When girls in rural Ghana need a dress for a wedding or a funeral, they travel to big cities to find a tailor. Or when their parents need a table or bench or other wooden product, they also go to the regional capital. The same goes for people looking for a construction worker with carpentry skills; the city is the place to be. Surely they would prefer to be able to find products and skilled carpenters close to their homes. But it’s difficult to find good quality dressmakers and carpenters in the rural villages. And youth that lives in small villages has limited options to start such a business. If they want to learn a trade, they often have to travel for hours on a bad road to go to a vocational school. And often that is too costly, time and money wise. It is also nearly impossible for them to find a nearby craftsman that offers a free apprenticeship – a very good way to master skills that local customers demand. As a result, they often move to bigger cities to work in low paying, unskilled jobs.  And they do not return to their villages to start businesses.

Apprenticeships

This project supports 30 rural master craft people who will be trained in technical, educational and entrepreneurial skills, which they can transfer to their apprentices. 150 Young people from low income groups (aged 18-25) in turn will be supported to become a dressmaker or carpenter. For three years they will work as an apprentice and gain experience to enable them start their own business. Suglo will pay their fees. The trainees will also develop entrepreneurial skills to build their capacities on business management, market research and customer expectations. Getting feedback from customers will therefore be part of the training. Afterwards, they can apply for equipment or a loan to set up their own business.

Start-ups

Once the trainees start their own business in their own communities, a revolving fund and micro-credit organisation will assist with start-up capital. To ensure that the loans will be repaid, they will be given to trainees in groups. The peer pressure to pay back is a good strategy to guarantee repayment. The new dressmakers or carpenters will be the master crafts people of the future, while the next generation can learn their skills as an apprentice. A sustainable cycle is created! Youth that otherwise doe not have access to vocational education will be able to learn a craft or trade in the rural communities. Moreover, the Association of Dressmakers & Carpenters will embed the training in their training programmes.

Public Private Partnership

Stichting Nederlandse Confectie Technici will be working with local partners to support the development of the skills of the master crafts people. They will be trained on technical, entrepreneurial and instruction skills. They will also support the master craft people to reach a wider market with their products and develop their commercial views on what customers demand. Leadpartner Suglo N-nya Beahigu Womens’ Association has a coordinating role in this collaboration of public and private partners. They will coach and monitor the apprentices and their masters and visit them regularly by motorbike. They will also work together with Maa-Tan-Tudu Association, a local micro-finance organization, so trainees can access loans and start their businesses.

Other Contributing Partners:

Epretec Ghana Foundation, Association of Dressmakers and Carpenters.

Project sheet Suglo (PDF)

Testimonial 1

Name: Aminu Iddi
Age: 20
Place of residence: Tolon
Occupation: Carpenter in training
Relation to the project: Very good, as he is cooperative and shows a lot of commitment and enthusiasm during training
Name and country of organization: Suglo, Ghana, West Africa

Background: Aminu Iddi is currently receiving apprenticeship training in carpentry in the Tolon district of Northern Ghana. According to him, his recent life could be described as hopeless and vulnerable, as he was unemployed. His only option was to travel to Accra, the capital of Ghana, where he carried people’s luggage for money to survive. He slept in the streets, where he was exposed to all kinds of dangers, including mosquito bites, robbery, rain and harsh weather conditions. He finally fell ill and was brought home for treatment. After he had recovered he decided to stay, and fortunately heard about Suglo’s training programme. He expressed an interest and enrolled.

  • Why did you choose to participate in this project? How did you become involved?
    I participated in this project because I thought it would allow me to turn my life around, from hopelessness to hopefulness, unemployed to self-employed, dependant to provider. I got involved through the meetings organized by Suglo, when they started their sensitization activities in the community.
  • What job prospects does the training programme offer?
    The training will provide quality vocational training in carpentry. I will eventually graduate as a master craftsman, and in return, I will provide training to interested unemployed youths in the community.
  • What have you learned so far within this project?
    I have learned many things since I started training. These include:

    • Bench work, including making household furniture and other related products.
    • Construction work, which includes windows, doors and roofing.
    • Shop management and maintenance of tools and machines.
    • Record-keeping, customer care, product quality and basic management.
  • What do you really like/appreciate about the project?
    The aspect of the training that I appreciate the most is the apprenticeship and entrepreneurial skills training.
  • What are your favourite activities in the project?
    My favourite activity is the training on entrepreneurship provided by Empretec.
  • What tips/recommendations can you give to improve the programme?
    Such programmes should provide the materials needed to enhance the quality of training.
  • What difference does participation in this project make in your life, and/or the lives of others (your family, community, etc.)
    I will soon be earning an income to support my family and I will also provide training to community members who express an interest in becoming carpenters.

Suglo N-Nya Behiagu Women’s Association – SUGLO

Choggu Yapalsi
2274 Tamale
Ghana
Website: –
Email: sulglogh[at]yahoo.com
Contact: Mr Adams Muhammed Abdulai

Association of Carpenters

Ghana
Website: –
Email: wagghana[at]yahoo.com
Contact: Mr Adjei Mckeown

Association of Dressmakers

Ghana
Website: –
Email: princesswuchei[at]yahoo.com
Contact: Mrs Ashia Imoro

Empretec Ghana Foundation

Ghana
Website: –
Email: francenico[at]yahoo.com
Contact: Mr Abdul Mumin Abdul Muktadir

Stichting Nederlandse Confectie Technici – SNCT

Netherlands
Website: –
Email: groeneveldsoeria[at]casema.nl
Contact: C.J.A. Groeneweg