Insights on business -- and life.
Rwanda Knits Update
Making a difference, changing lives.
by Staff Report (February 25, 2008)
The Rwanda Knits project is growing quickly with 17 associations
having formed 28 knitting cooperatives around Rwanda. Within the
next couple months, Rwanda Knits will become Rwanda Knits, Ltd, the
first and only women-owned "Secondary Cooperative" (a
for-profit "umbrella" cooperative business owned entirely
by its members) in the country. Most of these women are the very
poor and a significant percentage cannot read or write – but they
Knitting has changed the lives of these women. From a meeting
with representatives of many of the cooperatives, here are some
1. One cooperative said their members are now able to
purchase household items such as soap and can now shop at the local
markets for food, whereas before they had to grow about half of what
they can now buy.
2. Another group told how the younger women are now staying
in the village to knit rather than having to leave to find work,
often returning infected with HIV.
3. A third group told how they found out about a craft market
being held for tourists and sold $60 (about two months' wages) worth
of knitted goods their first hour.
4. And still another group told how knitting together in a
group has helped each member talk about their problems and find
solutions within the group.
5. Yet another told how their members are eagerly learning
math skills to enable them to design knitting patterns. All this is
in addition to the initial goal of earning an income.
When asked what they needed most? It wasn't money, it wasn't more
yarn – it was training in quality control and in product
Per meetings late January, the government of Rwanda is focusing
its efforts on sustainable businesses and cooperatives, especially
for women and especially in crafts. UNIFEM (United Nations
Development Fund for Women) in Rwanda, a Rwanda Knits partner, is
planning to use Rwanda Knits as the model for other women's craft
cooperatives around the country. Other Rwanda government officials
are looking at the project the same way.
Anyone who would like additional information on the project or
who may be interested in joining Rwanda Knits' founder, Cari Clement
(also the director of fashion and design for Caron International) on
a future trip to Rwanda can contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The project's website is www.rwandaknits.org.
Watch for Rwanda Knits in a sidebar of an article about Rwanda, to
be being featured in the June or July 2008 issue of O! magazine (O
as in Oprah).
(Note: Cari was honored for her work by HIA, the
predecessor to the Craft & Hobby Association. To read previous
Kate's Collage entries, click on the titles in the right-hand