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Clothed in Hope: A Changing Future for Zambian Women

Clothed in HopeAfter graduating from the University of South Carolina with a degree in fashion merchandise, Amy Woodell set off for Zambia on a graduation trip. There, she met many wonderful women who were struggling to make ends meet. Realizing that she could not leave the country behind, she decided to start the organization Clothed in Hope, which aims to, “empower women in Zambia through education and economic opportunity.” For the past 12 years, it has done just that.  

Why Zambia?

Zambia is a nation that has consistently struggled to keep citizens above the poverty line, with this concern particularly affecting women. According to the World Bank, the poverty rate in the rural areas of Zambia are 78%, with women being more vulnerable. Additionally, two-thirds of female-headed households in Zambia are in the poorer half of the population based on consumption levels. 

There appears to be a need to prioritize entrepreneurial training in order to increase human capital and female autonomy. In light of this, Clothed in Hope implemented a business training strategy that aims to lift hundreds of Zambian women out of poverty and encourage financial independence.

Phase 2

Clothed in Hope offers Phase 2, a 12-month program to teach sewing and business management skills. There were 316 women participating in the program which successfully benefitted 1,038 children in Zambia. The impact of this initiative continues to grow and stimulate various communities. The lessons offered include information about maternal health, nutrition, and personal finance in order to contribute positively to each household.

Phase 2 of Clothed in Hope aims to expand its impact by creating a “multiplication effect.” Every year, the organization chooses 15 graduates of the original program to join a co-op of community-based businesses, including tailoring. Each member will receive further business management training and participate in a mentor program with Clothed in Hope staff.

To generate a “multiplication effect,” the newly empowered entrepreneurs are encouraged to pass on their acquired skills to other community members. Clothed in Hope, in order to finance this process, offers grants to uplift these businesses. The organization’s dedicated support staff conducts frequent visits to the grant recipients, assessing the impact of the grants and assisting in troubleshooting.

Hope Remains Fervent

Clothed in Hope has created a website full of designs its entrepreneurs design and sell. These beautiful products range from clothing and accessories to household items.

In addition, it offers membership to the Hope Club, a group of participants who donate monthly. Through the Clothed in Hope website, donors can read about entrepreneurs and their business proposals and follow consistent updates from grant recipients.

The fight against poverty in Zambia is not yet over, but with organizations like Clothed in Hope in operation, there is hope that the trend will change for the better. 

– Macyn Hanzlik-Barend
Photo: Pxfuel