How it works

We have two types of programs , a Micro Loan Individual Program and a SewAID Workshop Program .

Micro-loan Individual Program

A group of applicants is selected, usually using the resources of a recognized aid agency or a local Rotary Club. These women are then given a sewing machine (usually new), a selection of suitable fabrics, and all the sewing accessories needed to get started. Then a sewing instruction course is commenced, usually lasting approximately 12 days, spread over a 2 week period. Our teachers are volunteer teachers from Australia who are all selected due to their experience and training as a sewing teacher.

The teachers teach the skills of basic dressmaking for simple clothes most suitable for sale in the local area, how to maintain their machine and hand tools, as well as the purchasing of supplies such as fabrics and threads etc. We also teach the basic skills of running their own business, how to sell their products, banking, book keeping etc.

At the end of the 2 week course, only those women who successfully meet certain progress criteria are selected to continue. The women that are selected are then asked to sign a simple micro-loan agreement which requires them to repay approximately 25% of the total value of the machine and supplies. Typically the new machine and all the supplies have a total value of AU$800, but the successful trainees will repay only $200 being $10 per month over 20 months with the first payment starting on the 4th month. There is no interest charged. The repaid money then remains in the country to fund further SewAid or other projects.

SewAID Workshop

More recently we have been establishing permanent workshops in several countries , such as Philippines, Uganda, and Fiji . In this program we work closely with an NGO, School, or Rotary Club, and we supply all the sewing machines and equipment free, and then send a team of teachers to teach selected poor women to be trained to work in these workshops.  The workshops are planned and run so that after a short time they are self sufficient; selling what they are making and paying the sewers a fair salary.  Then we revisit these workshops after one year or more with  another volunteer teacher  team, to give the sewers further training as needed.  More information can be read in our news tab and our countries tab.



Program Preliminary Assessment

For either the micro-loans or the group sewing room program, it is first necessary to obtain the following information beforehand.
Assuming that in both programs the aim is to establish an income, we first need to know:

  1. What products can be made and sold successfully?
    • If clothing, what style, can be of dresses, pants, shorts, tops, school uniforms, baby clothes, religious head scarfs etc are popular.
    • If repair work or alterations are envisaged, obtain details.
    • If curtains, sheets, or such are to be made, again get details.
    • If craft items such as quilts, cushion covers, bags etc once again get details.
  2. While initial fabric, thread, zippers, elastic etc will be supplied by Sewaid, it is necessary to know that these items can be replenished locally and at suitable prices – preferably wholesale.
  3. Where can these finished goods be sold and for how much; ie at a market, shop, government contract, etc.
  4. Does the home or community centre have electricity, and if so is it 240 or 120volt.
  5. Are there ladies with some sewing knowledge ready and willing to take an intensive 7 to 10 full day sewing course and become either an independent operator (micro loans program) or part of a group making items to sell.
  6. Can the teaching program be done in English? Or will they need an interpreter?
  7. Is there a hall or large room with plenty of power and light, as well as air conditioner or fans, available for the training program.
  8. Where will the teachers stay, eat etc. The teachers are often quite happy to prepare all their own meals if a kitchen is available.
  9. Any special time of the year the program would be best suited. What is the approx temperatures and conditions of the area.
  10. How much is estimated the volunteer teachers will need to pay for their:
    • Airfare
    • Accommodation
    • Food
    • Other costs

Please forward this information to Sewaid for our assessment on whether your proposed program in possible.