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800 kilos of fabric make all the difference in Rwanda


In February we shipped 800 kilos of fabric from Svensson in Kinna, to Gasabo, a community in Rwanda where the fabrics will help create jobs and better living conditions for women and their families. Behind the project is Swedish manufacturing company Safeman and partner Svensson, supplying both curtains and upholstery fabrics.

Swedish company Safeman has built a new factory in Rwanda, with the main task of building solar-powered water treatment systems, to ensure the availability of clean water for the more than 11 million residents living in an area the size of Småland. The company started out as a textiles manufacturer many years ago and this formed the basis of this fantastic opportunity.

"We had about 10 sewing machines just lying around back in Olofström and came upon the idea to send them down to Rwanda where they would actually come in useful," says Stephan Bengtsson, CEO and owner of Safeman. "We wanted to see if we could teach the women to sew with something other than the old manual machines they still used."

No time was wasted - the sewing machines were transported to Africa and installed in Gasabo. Stephan already knew Svensson’s owners and contacted us to see if we wanted to help. Of course, we agreed to this and curtains and upholstery fabrics, to be used as materials in the production process, were added to the shipment. 800 kg of fabric of different types and colours.

"The idea is that the women themselves create products that can be sold on - such as bags, curtains, pillows and other things," says Stephan. "We are testing the water to see what works. "The women get paid and the sale of the products cover our overheads. "It is thanks to Svensson's fabrics that we have this great opportunity to manufacture sellable products."

The beaming faces of the seamstresses are a testament that they are passionate about what they do and proud of the result.

"It’s great fun to be involved in the development of products and something that doesn’t happen in other companies," says one of the seamstresses. "There are so many different types and colours to choose from which makes it even more fun to work," says another. "Carina from Safeman in Sweden was amazing when she was here, she taught and inspired us a lot. "We absolutely love it here!” they both say.

"Now we are up and running and taking it one step at a time, we’ll see how it goes,” adds Stephan. "We are so happy and grateful for the way Svensson wants to join us on this journey."