Weaving Endless Possibilities for Global Impact

May 27, 2021- Shubhi Sharma, Elif Coskun, Emily Pressman, Anisa Saleh, and Michelle D. Riccio comprise the multidisciplinary team, Global SEAM.

Our team name is more than an acronym for our initials; it is a nod to the textile industry and our belief that by working together, we can weave endless possibilities for global impact. Global SEAM has a diverse set of skills and experiences in nonprofit and program management, inmate rehabilitation, global health, local public health capacity building experience in various sub-Saharan African countries, political science, economics, finance, counseling, teaching, communication, systematic design, and microbiology. Global SEAM is partnering with Our Sisters Opportunity in Rwanda to create a sustainability plan for its innovative tailoring and entrepreneurship program. 

 Our Sisters Opportunity (OSO) is a community-based nongovernmental organization in Gakenke District, Rwanda that empowers vulnerable rural girls and women by equipping them with vocational, leadership, and negotiation skills to improve their socioeconomic status. OSO was established in 2016 as a social enterprise and was registered as a NGO in 2019 by Delphine Uwamahoro, a global health expert and Rwandan fashion designer. OSO believes that sustainable employment in the textile industry will enable vulnerable women and girls to improve their families’ livelihoods and eradicate poverty.OSO seeks to create a world without poverty and inequalities, where all individuals can fulfill their full potential. OSO’s target populations include teenage mothers, women with disabilities, girls who drop out of school, orphans, and women in ubudehe 1 (the lowest economic strata in Rwanda). These women are less likely to have opportunities inhibiting them from providing a sustainable income for their families. OSO empowers its students with training in tailoring, design, leadership, entrepreneurship, health education, and permaculture. 

OSO offers various multidisciplinary training programs, however Global SEAM’s partnership with OSO will focus on creating sustainable job opportunities for its innovative tailoring and entrepreneurship program. This program is one of OSO’s Creative Design School’s (CDS) flagship programs. Starting in 2021, each year OSO will have fifty-two students per cohort enrolled in a year-long tailoring and entrepreneurship program, which is anticipated to grow to 104 students per cohort starting 2023. This program consists of a six-month intensive skills training in tailoring, entrepreneurship, negotiation, and leadership, followed by six months of practical skills application and mentorship. As a result of completing the CDS training, graduates of the program will be equipped with the necessary skills and empowered to start tailoring businesses, while also having opportunities to work and provide products to OSO. The hope is that with sustainable jobs women are able to improve their socioeconomic status while meeting their families’ basic needs.