Uganda: Vocational Training and Tailoring Shop Program

8 Success Stories from the Tailor Shop Program

June 16, 2015

Naku Charles Lwanga

Success stories for the 10 RMF tailors

Doreen Aweko

Doreen has had significant improvement in her business including additional materials in her store.  Doreen started her tailoring business with the capital she got from RMF and with the profit she made she started grain selling from Bweyale, Kiryandongo to Juba, South Sudan where she has made much more money.  When she started she profited from tailoring and began grain selling, but now it is the other way around — she gets profit from grain selling to support her tailoring business and now she earns double profit.  Doreen still continues to trade grains to South Sudan regardless of the war that hit South Sudan in December 2013.  As a lady she faces many challenges from theft and others. But her growth cannot be challenged even thought she is in a business mostly occupied by men as she has managed to compete strongly and equally with men.

Sometimes things are challenging in her tailoring business, for example when she is in South Sudan she has less time for tailoring, like for the month of March 2015, she only got a profit of UGX 85,000/=.

Doreen Aweko in her workshop with her materials making a school uniform on her machine
Poline Anyango

Pauline, after being helped to start a business by RMF, has gradually developed both her skills and business as her capital and stock have increased.  The more active she is in her business the more skills she gains making the fashions customers want. Sometimes the customers bring her designs and she copies them to make her bestselling clothes. Because of her business she can now afford to smile and she can get whatever she wants — she has purchasing power.

Pauline working at her shop in Bweyale
Martha Aryemo

Martha operates her business near the market of Bweyale. She has managed to get customers because of her skill attending to them. Martha also adds value to her business by buying second hand clothes that she modifies and sells at a higher price.  Martha has turned her shop into a workshop where she also teaches those that want to learn how to create a tailoring business or how to use a sewing machine.  She is paid for instructing, which adds to her profits.
Challenges in Bweyale that affect her business include:

  • Customers who don’t want to pay after their work is done.
  • People in Bweyale have less interest in first hand clothes, rather opting for second hand clothes; she can make bitenge from first hand clothes and nobody buys.
  • Rent still is a challenge for her.

Martha standing in her shop which is located near Bweyale market
Auma Santa

Santa is one of our most successful students that the institute has ever produced.  Santa now is employing four girls in her shop who help her with the daily running of the business.
Santa is proud of her growth in business after her problem of a broken machine was sorted out and repaired. Santa said that some of her goods are exported to South Sudan where there is already a market. She can earn UGX 500,000 – 600,000 per month and she says that she is seeing a lot of changes in her life — she is able to pay school fees and rent, and she trains other people from different areas.

Auma Santa in her shop in Bweyale town designing one of her products that she takes to South Sudan
Rose Nekesa

Nekesa is running her shop in Bweyale town and recently was receiving around 12 people a day for repairs and those that needed school uniforms. Rose is motivated by her passion to work, her ability to take her children to school and rent a big house for herself and her children; being a refugee has not deterred her from achieving a lot in her business.

Rose Nekesa in her room under renovation for her business and at her machine awaiting the completion of the room

Jackiline Atoo

Jackiline says that she can earn UGX 170,000 shillings per month. On top of the tailoring work she added a small business of selling clothes and food in the market within the settlement. She also does her tailoring at home; she explains that it is convenient for her to monitor her business and in that area she receives customers who bring their clothes to her home.

Jackiline Atoo at home where she does her work
Beatrice Akwero

Beatrice is one of our successful tailors who resides in the settlement. Her journey has had many challenges — her machines burned in a fire when she was away (the cause of the fire is still unknown as investigation continues). Beatrice was making around UGX 150,000 since her operations are at her home. She has struggled to recover from the damage of the fire and as a lady it has been very hard for her. Beatrice is gathering resources to get another machine and get back to business as she continues to support herself with agriculture in the meantime.

Beatrice Akwero in her plantation in cluster Q
Lillian Asyenjo

Lillian has made tremendous improvements in her business over the past months and now she is looking forward to moving from where she has been staying to a trading centre in the settlement. Lillian and her brother have managed to put up a small building in the centre where she is planning to start her work.

Lillian’s machine has been damaged, but before that she was making UGX 190,000/= per month and she managed to rent some land and expand on her plantation. Lillian has 3 acres of land where she cultivates maize. The challenge of her damaged machine has crippled her business but she is looking forward to taking it for repair; there are no experts in Bweyale who can repair her machine. A mother of a two month old child, Lillian has struggled to be independent as her husband is in South Sudan.

Lillian in her plantation in the settlement


In April 2011, RMF initiated the Panyadoli Vocational Training Institute (PVTI) at the Kiryandongo Refugee Settlement after being presented by the refugee community with issues surrounding the lack of skills and vocational training for students graduating from the settlement high school.
After researching which skills would provide the quickest earning opportunities and the most efficient economic investment requirements for RMF, we narrowed the programs down to:

  • Hairdressing and Beauty Therapy
  • Bricklaying and Concrete Practice
  • Carpentry and Joinery
  • Tailoring and Garment Cutting


  • To train the refugees with relevant vocational training skills
  • To prepare the refugees for the work world with entrepreneurial skills for both employment and self-employment
  • To prepare refugees with basic skills that they shall use for nation building when returning to their home country
  • To foster a cycle of improved economic stability and opportunity in the region