The “Dhamira Hub” is now up and running at Seed of Hope in Nairobi and the first residents have taken their places and started work. Residents are graduates of the Seed of Hope programme and are renting workstations in the hub’s workshop so that they can start their own small businesses under the guidance of Seed of Hope teachers and mentors from the world of enterprise.
The original idea for the hub came from two of Seed of Hope’s supporters, Kellie Murungi and Evans Muriu. They suggested there was a need for a stepping stone for talented graduates before they launched themselves in the market on their own. Discussions were held with graduates from the programme and students who were about to graduate. The graduates shared the challenges they had faced setting up their own businesses including landlords who refused to rent them space because they were too young and clients who wouldn’t believe that they were capable of producing clothes for the same reason.
We are extremely grateful to the ASOS Foundation which agreed to back the setting up of an incubation workshop and provided the funding for the structure and equipment. ASOS Foundation also offered to support Seed of Hope Administrator, Florence, to allow her to oversee the work carried out at the workshop and the development of the residents. In order to help with the sustainability of the project, ASOS Foundation has funded a Business Development Manager for Seed of Hope’s “Crafted” brand. The sale of Crafted products will benefit the residents of the Dhamira Hub and profits will be invested in the hub and Seed of Hope.
The conversion of a shipping container into a workshop was completed in February. The 40ft container was divided to contain a small room in which industrial machines are located and the remainder of the building houses seven sewing workstations, 2 ironing tables, 2 craft workstations and an IT station. There is also a fitting room for clients to try on their new outfits.
Roselyne graduated from Seed of Hope in October 2013 and coined the name “Dhamira Hub”. The word dhamira is Kiswahili for intention and Roselyne says the residents of the hub “have the intention to come up with something new and unique”. Within the first few days of the hub opening, there was the chance to do just that as Scottish designer Sheila Dhariwal visited the residents to discuss some exciting new craft products. As well as giving the residents advice on how to make the products, Sheila also gave lessons on how to interact with customers and how to display products. Mariam spent time with Sheila and said the interaction was “fun, encouraging and we learned something”.
Mariam also said that the two years training at Seed of Hope has given the girls courage to speak to people and this helped with the interaction with Sheila. The Dhamira Hub will continue to build on the skills graduates have learned in their time at Seed of Hope and the appointment of mentors will ensure that they always have someone willing to support them and keep them on the path to success. Faith, another hub resident says she hopes to find a mentor “to encourage me on how to manage my business….and to be strong in any challenges I face.”
We thank everyone who has been involved in the setting up of the Dhamira Hub and look forward to sharing updates and exciting new “Crafted” products with you in the near future.