Women Artisan Cooperatives in Niger

by Rain for the Sahel and Sahara
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Women Artisan Cooperatives in Niger
Women Artisan Cooperatives in Niger
Women Artisan Cooperatives in Niger
Women Artisan Cooperatives in Niger
Women Artisan Cooperatives in Niger
Women Artisan Cooperatives in Niger
Women Artisan Cooperatives in Niger
Women Artisan Cooperatives in Niger
Women Artisan Cooperatives in Niger
Women Artisan Cooperatives in Niger
Women Artisan Cooperatives in Niger
Women Artisan Cooperatives in Niger
Women Artisan Cooperatives in Niger
Women Artisan Cooperatives in Niger
Women Artisan Cooperatives in Niger
Co-op Artisan Ouwa Ghoumour
Co-op Artisan Ouwa Ghoumour

This fall, some women from the artisan co-operative Albaye (formerly "Cool Water") had the chance to sell their hand crafted items at a craft fair in Agadez. Members of the co-operative paid for meals, transport and sale table rent with their own funds. The women chose on their own to attend the sale on RAIN’s behalf. The governor of Agadez, the Prefect and other dignitaries visted and made some purchases.  The group told them all about how RAIN helps them and they, in turn, invest in their children's education.

RAIN "Albaye" Co-op member Ouwa Ghoumour writes:

"I have been working with leather since I was a young child. This is actually a traditional and cultural activity that my family follows. My mother also works with leather and everything I've learned is soley from her. Together, we would create different styles of small and large wallets, especially the traditional Tuareg wallet called “Albaye” that women and men alike wear around their necks.

When I married, I began working on my own at home making the same style of wallets. But when RAIN came to Agadez, I began working on new kinds of items with my friends.

RAIN helps us find new designs and provides raw materials, and with these elements we make leather key rings, wallets for portable phones, passport purses, and other items. We learn better design techniques and how to market our products. RAIN helped us organize our Artisan Cooperative, now called "Albaye" in memory of my mother. This is quite a success story for us. In September of 2011, with the support of RAIN, Albaye made 40 small leather phone purses that were sold in the U.S. for 5,000 FCFA ($10) each, for a total of 200,000 FCFA ($400). Thanks to this sale, our cooperative made a profit of 120,000 FCFA ($240).  The cooperative will donate 50% of the proceeds, or 60,000 FCFA ($120), to Ibrahim Oumarou Sanda school, named after the Sultan of Agadez who built the school, and attended by very poor nomadic children. This contribution is a commitment we have been proud to make since we began working with RAIN.

I wish to thank RAIN and all the GlobalGiving donors who support RAIN’s activities in Niger."

RAIN has given the group an advance for materials towards the next order placed of 160,000 FCFA - 20,000 FCFA for each artisan. We look forward to seeing the new products they create and sharing them with our friends in the U.S.!

P.S. Don't forget - October 19th is the last Global Giving bonus day of the year.  Each donation to RAIN projects will be matched, up to $100,000. Take advantage of this chance to double your impact for nomadic families in West Africa.

Ouwa working.
Ouwa working.
Tuareg traditional "Albaye" wallet.
Tuareg traditional "Albaye" wallet.
Passport wallet.
Passport wallet.
Wallets
Wallets

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Metier Chance Vivre totes
Metier Chance Vivre totes

Exciting news....the “Metier Chance Vivre,” (Chance for Life) Artisan Embroidery Cooperative has begun working with a tailor local to the Agadez region, Aja.  Aja will create the scarves, tote bags, and other sown items for the women to embroider on a separate piece of fabric that is later incorporated in the final product, allowing the members to create more items in a shorter period of time.  Aja has rare experience with western markets, with a good grasp of the standards of work quality as well as fashion ideas. She will be further instructing the women on modern design techniques, combining them with the Wodaabe centuries old embroidery traditions, increasing the value and beauty of their finished products. 

 

Women tailors are very unusual in Niger, it is an area of work most often reserved solely for men. RAIN is proud to now be facilitating the all-women artisan enterprise true to the inspiration of our original vision for the program. 

 

New developments are happening in addition to new products - discussions are underway about the cooperative members to possibly work with a well known designer in Niger.  RAIN staff is also actively seeking out local markets for sale of the co-operative products, as well as facilitating the process for the artisans to become members of Niger’s national alliance of craftswomen. 

 

All these efforts are with the goal of enhancing the co-operatives’ visibility and development as artisans, not only to generate income for themselves and their children’s schools, but towards building new livelihoods, which will continue to benefit their lives and the community for years to come.

 

We continue to be heartened and impressed by these women’s resolve, hard work, and talent......Bravo, Metier Chance Vivre Co-operative!

 

If you have interest in purchasing tote bags or other items from the co-operative, email Julia at julia@rain4sahara.org.

 

 

 

 

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Cool Water Co-Op: Purses
Cool Water Co-Op: Purses

RAIN, in partnership with ten Tuareg women from Agadez,  has created a new artisan cooperative:  Aman Sanodnan, or "Cool Water."  From a Tuareg proverb - one walks in the hot desert searching for water, always disappointed, but you must go on – you are about to give up, when you come upon a well. And the water is cool and good.  At last your work is rewarded, you have come in from the hot sun and found the shade.  The women chose this name to signify that after much hard work with little reward, they have found the cool water of RAIN. 

These highly skilled artisans are working with locally produced leather to make purses, cell phone cases, ceremonial wallets, and traditional Tuareg tassels, which adorn their camel saddles.  RAIN is waiting eagerly for the new items to arrive, so we can introduce them to the U.S., and so that our friends here can have a little piece of Niger.

Also in Agadez, the Wodaabe women of the MCV embroidery cooperative are hard at work creating beautiful tote bags and purses.  They are now working with an established woman tailor, making it truly an all-woman enterprise.  The new tailor has many new design ideas for the group. The finished pieces will not only go to be sold in the U.S., but with the help of RAIN staff, be sold in markets in Niger, as well.

The investment you've made in these women continues to grow as they "learn and earn," for their children and community..... we'll let you know when their items are available for sale and keep you updated on their progress.

Cool Water Co-Op: Ceremonial Wallets
Cool Water Co-Op: Ceremonial Wallets
Cool Water Co-Op: Phone Cases
Cool Water Co-Op: Phone Cases
MCV Co-Op: Tote Bags
MCV Co-Op: Tote Bags
Oumou Ama: Cool Water Co-Op
Oumou Ama: Cool Water Co-Op
Hadiza Gado: Cool Water Co-Op
Hadiza Gado: Cool Water Co-Op

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Rain for the Sahel and Sahara

Location: Portsmouth, New Hampshire - USA
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Twitter: @rain4sahara
Project Leader:
Whitney Fleming
Manager Communications & Projects
Portsmouth, NH Niger

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