Twenty women have made history as the first graduates of the Fundi Women Project. The women, who received training in various aspects of carpentry, were given their accreditation on Friday, October 30.
The ceremony, held at Mayondo Engineering Works in Namugongo, was overseen by project leader Evelyn Zalwango.
Zalwango explained that the project was birthed out of a need to find skilled, reliable artisans. Zalwango is the founder of V-Interiors Limited.
She said that when she started V-Interiors, she discovered it was almost impossible to find enough skilled carpenters and artisans to staff her new entrepreneurial venture. She especially wanted to work with female artisans who are the most disadvantaged economically because of their gender.
Having previously worked with German government organisations HWK and GIZ, Zalwango said she was aware of their interest in developing international skills sharing and business partnerships.
Zalwango says, “This is how the Fundi women project was born but I still needed partners like Mayondo Engineering which has one of the most advanced carpentry workshops in the country to partner in the training, Wezesha impact to help bring vulnerable women on board, our German partners to help with curriculum design and finally HWK and GIZ to help with funding and logistical support.”
Israel Katongole, a resource person at GIZ, says the organisation works to connect skilled craftsmen and women in Africa to those in Germany. The programme has been in place since 2018 and it was through such initiatives that they first worked with V-Interiors Limited, Mayondo Engineering Works and Footsteps Furniture among others.
HWK and GIZ were thus very interested when Zalwango and Mayondo Engineering Works CEO Mansur Ssengendo suggested the Fundi Women Project.
Cornelia Zup, the technical advisor from HWK, says skills education is the foundation of a thriving economy and should be emphasized.
She commended the graduates on the high level of skills they displayed in the work on show during the ceremony. She promised that, “If this model is scaled, Uganda won’t need to import furniture soon and instead it will become a net exporter.”
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