Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo

The ‘Belle Couture’ Dressmakers of Kinshasa

Length of project: 18 months

Partner: Bana ya Kivuvu

When we think about our past, sometimes we can only cry. Some of us are from broken homes, others have experienced exploitation, but we don’t want our childhoods to determine our future. Our dream is to become independent business women. We have resilience and determination and now we’re developing useful skills. With your help we could become The ‘Belle Couture’ Dressmakers of Kinshasa.

Project details
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This project is fully funded

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Their six month journey!


Here are the headlines!

  1. The Dressmakers formed small groups and between them opened up 10 workshops.
  2. Three of the women decided not to continue with dressmaking: Judith used her investment to develop a pop-up market stall selling dried fish and other items; Isabel decided to take part of the capital available to her and has set up a business making and selling handbags and Flaming took the difficult decision to step away completely.
  3. All the dressmakers have received training from Annie, their mentor, on maintaining cashbooks - managing cashflow is key to success in the early months of any new business!
  4. Annie is visiting all the workshops regularly and notes that all are well stocked.

Sandra, Ruphine and Crystel’s journey of possibility


Sandra, Ruphine and Crystel opened their small stall on the side of a main road with lots of passing trade. They worked hard to present their stall well and networked extensively with family, friends and their church community.

Though it was a good location, it was struggle for both Ruphine and Crystel to travel to as both live quite a distance from the stall.

Gradually the work began to come in and Sandra found that she was getting enough work to pay the rent herself. This enabled both Ruphine and Crystel to re-think their own situation. As they live closer together they have decided to set up a joint stall outside Ruphine’s home. Though this was not to original plan, the women have been open and honest with each other and all have behaved generously as they made the decision to separate.

We’re delighted that Sandra’s business is going from strength to strength and she felt able to support Ruphine and Crystel to develop plans more suitable for them. She continues to have plenty of orders and has even started selling sandals as this is helping capture passing trade!

We look forward to sharing more about Ruphine and Crystel as they establish their joint-venture!

By Jenny Rooke

Sandra selling her range of sandals

Open for business!

All the dressmakers have now found premises for their workshops and have begun their businesses.

Sandra and Ruphine have set up a business along with Crystel. They are renting a small cabin on the side of a busy main road. They have made their shop front eye-catching, so people will stop and visit them. They are also busy promoting their business to their own networks, including church community.

Sandra and Ruphine in their workshop

All the dressmakers attended a training session early November. It was run by Annie who is responsible for providing mentoring and support for the women. Training was given on keeping accurate records through the cash book system. Everyone knows that managing cashflow for a new business is crucial to long term success, so we’re delighted that Annie was able to provide this training.

Annie training in cash flow.

Your donation has helped to make all of this happen!

Thank you for being the spark to the ‘Belle Couture’ Dressmakers of Kinshasa!

By Jenny Rooke

Sandra and Ruphine outside their workshop

Project funded!

We are delighted that the ‘Belle Couture’ Dressmakers of Kinshasa’s spark project is now fully funded and we are currently sharing this good news with Sandra, Ruphine and the other dressmakers.

We thank everyone who donated so generously giving these amazing women the opportunity to set up their own tailoring businesses.

You have been the spark to help them realise their potential and become independent business women.

We will be in touch very soon with a thank you postcard followed by regular updates on how they are progressing as they get their poverty-fighting ventures underway.

Thank you for being the spark to Sandra, Ruphine and the Dressmakers of Kinshasa.

By Amy Simpson

Messages from supporters

Prayers, encouragements and shout outs

David £56

Wow - amazing project!

phillip £300.00

May the Lord Jesus bless you all

Their story

A place of pride

Growing up in Congo, money was rarely available for education. Many of us didn’t have the chance to complete our studies and experienced awful things as we grew up. It’s hard to try and change our own circumstances when we’re exploited by people around us.

But we know that we are strong women and it was a pure moment of joy to be welcomed into the training centre with Project Possible. We now have the skills to design clothes, choose cloth and create beautiful tailor-made outfits. With these skills we have the potential to care for our own families and send our children to school.

Imagine the pride we could feel to have our own workshops and little shop fronts. That is the next step as we realise our potential and begin to build our independent businesses. We’re determined to make our new venture work and we have so many creative ideas.

Sandra, Ruphine and the trainee dressmakers
“I am amazed. Compared to the situation I was in, I have become a woman of value. This business I have chosen, I will work six days a week for it. I will not abandon it.” Ruphine's dream

Their project

A business for the whole community

We’re working with Congolese partners, Bana ya Kivuvu, to help ensure this project supports each dressmaker in the best way possible and that the impact of good business will be felt across their community.

We’ll be working closely with our partners to:

  • Provide each dressmaker with the start-up capital to purchase their workshop premises, material and stock to get their business started
  • Train each of the women in book-keeping and the importance of understanding cash flow
  • Help each of the women to learn the best way to market their business and encourage new customers to visit their workshop
  • Provide on-hand sewing and tailoring guidance if women are asked to produce outfits that involve more advanced techniques
Our local project manager meeting one of the ladies

Other Spark projects

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The Stylish Shopkeepers of Kinshasa

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Previously exploited and abused, five strong minded women from Kinshasa are ready to open new shops and re-define their future.

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