Uganda: Vocational Training and Tailoring Shop Program

Success Stories from Kiryandongo

June 06, 2016

“Friends helping Friends helping Friends” has been RMF’s concept from the start; to ensure that people are able to improve as a whole. In line with skills training at Panyadoli Vocational Training Institute, the skills that have been passed on to the refugees and the host community have greatly improved their livelihood, as some have resorted to going back to their countries where they can add value to their country through the skills acquired. Although some have not yet started applying their skills, there is hope that they will do so in the near future. Therefore, it’s important to recognize the value of skills training as a practical way of improving people’s lives.  Through the follow-up exercises conducted, we found many students that exhibited progress in what they are doing as a result of the skills they acquired at the institute.  We are excited to share the stories of some of these students below. 


Samuel Mayen
Samuel is one of the very successful tailors who trained at Panyadoli Vocational Training Institute and graduated in the first intake. After acquiring his start-up kit from JICA/Government of South Sudan, he chose to go back to South Sudan and started his business. He says that very few people in his area in South Sudan know how to sew; he is almost the only person sewing in the whole sub-county. Samuel gets a lot of customers, sometimes an overwhelming number. Customers bring torn clothes for repair, second-hand clothes for fitting, new materials to make new clothes, and more. He feels he is making a lot of money and will soon start his iron sheet house construction. He encouraged those that graduated to go back to South Sudan, as there is more demand than staying in Uganda where competition is very high. He says he is dreaming to start farming with the profits he earns and he will soon be an employer. He encouraged his friends, especially South Sudanese, to go back to South Sudan.

Pauline Aber

Pauline is among the first 2015 graduates; she graduated on March 15th, 2015 with a Certificate in Tailoring awarded by the Directorate of Industrial Training. When she was a trainee at Panyadoli Vocational Training Institute, she showed a lot of interest and took her training seriously. After her graduation and even before being given the start-up package, Pauline took the initiative to rent a sewing machine at UGX 10,000/month, which she put to good use for designing cloths for customers. This earned her a profit that ranged between UGX 50,000 and 70,000/month. With these humble savings plus the additional start-up kit that was provided to her, Pauline was able to meet the basic needs of herself and her child and contribute UGX 10,000/week towards her savings in a village group saving of 50 people. Pauline has a number of challenges, but they don’t keep her from moving forward. Her main challenge is limited workspace in the market. She has space for selling, but not for keeping her goods, so on a daily basis she carries her goods from home. When it rains, it makes her operation impossible. She also lacks the desired capital to rent a room, buy more materials, and also buy a designing machine.  

 Richard Peter Okot
Richard is settled in Kiryandongo Settlement, Cluster B. After his three-month training, he graduated in March 2015 from the Department of Bricklaying and Concrete Practice.  Immediately after his graduation, Richard concentrated all his efforts on looking for construction opportunities, and he found a place to work. Currently he has been participating in the construction of buildings both inside and outside of the settlement. This has enabled him to acquire more skills, as he has been working full-time since he graduated. His hard work has enabled him to purchase 3 goats and 4 pigs with his earnings from the different construction sites that he has been involved in. With regards to the start-up kit he acquired from the institute: Richard says that these tools have made him a marketable worker, as people want to employ someone who has the tools already to do work.  As a result, Richard has gotten many opportunities of earning a living, thus improving on his livelihood. 

Manet Atelek
 Manet is another beneficiary of RMF’s Vocational Training Skills Program. He graduated in March 2015, from the Department of Bricklaying and Concrete Practice. From his graduation to the compilation of this report, Manet has worked at six sites where he has been involved from the setting of the foundation to the roofing level. This has enabled him to perfect his building skills. From the savings he made from each site, he has been able to open up a small retail shop which earns him extra income per day. This has also enabled him to buy a solar panel, which he uses for charging people’s phones, thus earning him extra income. Manet invests his savings properly so that he is able to improve his livelihood.  A challenge Manet mentioned to us is that of some bad customers who use his services and goods but do not pay in return.

 Juliet Anena
Juliet graduated in Tailoring and Garment Cutting with the August 2015 intake. With her start-up kit, she works from home. According to Juliet, this has enabled her to earn and save about UGX 5,000/week.  Her continued practice helps her to further develop the skills she acquired during the training. While at home, the community or her clients bring her clothes for repair and whenever she gets materials she designs simple children’s clothing to sell. This has enabled her to contribute toward basic needs of her family comprised of her mother, sisters, and brothers. Juliet looks forward to an opportunity to attain enough capital to rent a shop and buy materials for her anticipated shop. Juliet’s dream is to have a big shop and design clothes that can compete favorably in the market. Like any other person who starts a business, Juliet has experienced ups and downs. She says that during rainy season, people are in the garden, and the rain disturbs her since she works at home in a compound under a shade tree.  When rain comes she cannot work.

Robinah Nadongo
 Robinah is among the August 2015 graduates, and she works at home under her house’s veranda.  She is located along Munobwa Street in the Bweyale Trading Center. With her sewing machine, she is able to earn and save about UGX 1,000/day and to date she has saved over UGX 70,000 in her bank account.  Robinah hopes to save enough money to buy materials and open up a shop in the future. Robinah is working under a veranda and clients do come; being in town and near the road has made it easy for people to access her services. People pass by and see her because she is always there at her workplace. However, she still hopes for more customers. An enthusiastic young lady, Robinah hopes to see many good things to come her way. As the saying goes, “patience pays,” and Robinah is quite optimistic to grow.

Safina Haula
 Safina is one of the students who graduated in August 2015, and with the gift of the start-up kit, she located herself at the veranda of her sister’s shop which is located along Dika road. Her initiative contributes about UGX 10,000/week, and with these earnings, she is able to contribute towards her home’s basic needs; she has been able to buy a blanket, bed sheets, shoes, clothes for herself and for her sisters and brothers. The site of her business is not all that comfortable, being located at the entrance of her sister’s shop, and often sunshine, rain, and dust disturb her business. However, she is still very thankful to RMF-JICA for the training opportunity she acquired as she is able to provide herself with basic needs as she is no longer depending on her sister and is able to provide also for her family.

Janet Anena
Janet graduated August 2015 in Tailoring and Garment Cutting, something she had always dreamed of as a child. After acquiring these skills, Anena worked with friends who had sewing machines until she received her start-up kit and began her own work from home. The community appreciates her commitment and availability, and that she finishes customers’ work on time. Usually her clients bring her clothes to repair, and she has also designed dresses for some clients. With the growing popularity of her clothing designs, Janet sees getting more customers since we are in the festive season where people want newly made clothes.  Her biggest challenge is the increasing cloth prices in the market, whereby the cost of making a dress has also increased, sometimes discouraging customers who would have come to buy.

 Denis Gerla
Denis graduated August 2015 in the Building Department, and lives in Bweyale. He has been very quick to find building opportunities around the settlement. Recently, he has been involved in setting up the World Food Program Food Store, and he is currently involved with AIRD in setting up the stores that are being built. As a site helper, he earns UGX 15,000/day and with this, he has been able to improve his life. Now he can afford basic needs like buying good food at home and also save for another day where he expects to invest his money in any productive activity that he will find after the work he is doing. Denis appreciates the skills he acquired at the institute, which have made it possible for him to get a job and improve his livelihood.

Rachael Yar
Rachael graduated in August 2015, and she started our visit by thanking Real Medicine Foundation for making her a tailor. She is getting clients and she is saving UGX 2,500/day. Rachael is located at the reception center, and since she is the only person providing such a service to the neighborhood, she has many customers.  She makes skirts and blouses, and she has begun making and designing tablecloths. As she wakes every morning to put her machine under a tree, rain, dust, and sunshine have not hindered her from acquiring what she wants in her life. She is planning to save some money to buy materials for her work.

Ajok Sunday
 Ajok graduated August 2015 in Tailoring and Garment Cutting. She works under a tree in the neighborhood compound, where her clients find her. This has enabled her to keep in touch with the tailoring knowledge that she got from her training and earn some income so she can meet her basic needs. She shared that she is at least able to save about UGX 5,000/month, which is limited by the high cost of living. Ajok has now saved about UGX 40,000 with a nearby village savings group. If she can accumulate enough money, she would love to buy more materials, rent a shop, and also start trading materials and be able to market to South Sudan in the near future.

Deng Aker
Deng graduated March 2015 in Tailoring and Garment Cutting. She works from home and is a mother of 8 children including adopted children under her care. She does not concentrate so much on the tailoring work because of the multiple family needs. This forces her to spend lots of hours in the gardens to provide for the family. Sometimes, however, she repairs clothing brought in by clients; this helps her buy family basics like soap, food, and even medical treatment. Deng is now thinking of making students’ uniforms next year, 2016, to expand her business.

Sarah Adior
Sarah graduated August 2015 in Tailoring and Garment Cutting, and was equipped with her start-up kit. Sarah works from home, making designs, Bitenge, bed sheets, pillow sheets, and other types of clothes. The money she earns assists her in buying food at home, and in covering other materials and other needs at home. Sarah is one of our students who has picked up aggressively in the business as her attitude towards her work is positive, expressed in the way she receives customers. Young as she is, Sarah is quite optimistic that with the rate at which she is growing, she will be able to have her own shop one day. She said that the only problem she has is capital to buy materials.

Roda Yar
Roda graduated in March 2015, and then she could not do anything as she didn’t have any start-up capital. She resorted to doing pet work for people until the start-up kit was provided to her. Since then, Roda has worked hard to see that she can earn a living with her own hands, using the skills she attained from the institute. She is able to perform basic repairs and design a few clothes, mainly for children. Roda is optimistic that with the experience she is getting every day, she will be able to expand on her production so she can sell during Christmas and save enough money to buy more materials.

Jennifer Achiro
Jennifer Achiro graduated August 2015 in Tailoring and Garment Cutting. Equipped with the start-up kit, Jennifer joined with her friend Kevin, borrowed UGX 200,000 from a friend, and rented a small shop in the Bweyale market. With their earnings, Jennifer and Kevin have been stocking their shop with more Bitenge materials and designing other clothes requested by clients. They are not worried about the limited space in their workshop.  Instead, they are happy that this has provided them with an opportunity to get more exposure and build relationships with clients. They are optimistic that by the start of next year, 2016, they will have saved enough money to shift to a better location and expand their business.


Ronald Kilama
 Ronald graduated from the Carpentry and Joinery Department in March 2015. He was linked to his current workshop by a friend who admired his carpentry skills. Ronald has been able to get a few orders of his own, making chairs, benches, and stools. He has also worked with other colleagues at the workshop to complete big orders, and he is paid a percentage as his commission. He says that this has enabled him to take care of his elderly mother and also contribute to desired basic household needs like food and health care. He has also contributed to payment of his siblings’ school fees this term. He is very grateful to RMF-JICA for the training opportunity.

Doreen Aweko
As an entrepreneur today, Doreen has significantly improved her businesses, including the new venture that she started in the last reporting period of selling sandals for children and adults. Now that she is back in the grain business as well, she stores grains like maize, which she sells to South Sudan. Though unpredicted, this venture has helped her earn enough money to take care of her brother in school and her family. She has also added materials in her store for tailoring. Having been in the business since graduating from the institute, her growth has been realized in many aspects including her persistence in business. Doreen has not given up on her career as many young people do, but made it grow to the extent of employing other people and creating new ventures. Doreen continues to run her businesses and overcome the challenges of instability in South Sudan and being a lady in a male-dominated industry. These challenges have made progress more difficult, but she manages to work through them.

Poline Anyango
Poline was one of our first ten tailoring students, and began her business with a start-up kit. Since graduating from the Tailoring and Garment Cutting Department, she has continued to develop her skills and business.  Her products sold very well during the Christmas festival season due to the high demand from people shopping for the festival. She has been able to buy enough material and continues making and designing African-style clothes, which are on the market currently and have further improved her business. Poline has been joined by a colleague whom she has employed to help her when she cannot do all the work herself. Poline was able to save UGX 400,000 in December, a month she is proud to say she made good money. With these funds, she has been able to buy more materials that can sustain the business. Her dedication in work has given her a reason to smile, as she can now provide some of the necessities for herself and her siblings.

Scovia Akello
Scovia is among our 2015 graduates who received a certificate in Tailoring, awarded by the Directorate of Industrial Training. As a student at Panyadoli Vocational Training Institute, she showed a lot of interest and took her training seriously. After her graduation, Scovia took the initiative to start working with some colleagues to get experience in the field. She received her start-up kit a month later, and put the machine to good use, designing clothes for customers and making Bitenge. This earned her a profit that ranged between UGX 60,000 and UGX 65,000/month, and her profits have continuously improved. With her humble savings, Scovia has managed to provide for her basic needs, send some money home to her parents, and contribute to her savings group of 30 people, which demands her savings contribution of UGX 7,000/week. Scovia still faces some challenges, including lack of capital to rent a room and buy more materials and having to share the designing machine with a friend in the room where she works.

Angella Ramazani
Angella operates her tailoring business from her home in the settlement. She has managed to get customers because of the skill she exhibits in attending to customers, the business training she received from the RMF vocational team, and the support of other stakeholders in the settlement who seek to empower women who are doing business. With the help of a loan, Angella has continued to develop and grow her business. She has not suffered from the lack of a shop. Instead, working from home allows her to balance family and work, and keeps her close to daily customers who live in the neighbourhood. Angella says her business would probably suffer if she changed location. Within a small period of graduating from the Vocational Training Institute, Angella has managed to earn enough money to sustain her family even when her man is away and develop a network of friends in the tailoring business. She continues to make UGX 8,000-10,000/day from the work she gets, depending on the availability of customers. Angella faces her challenges with a smile. The main challenge she faces is the fragile community— in the settlement people keep moving from one place to another, making it hard to have constant customers and develop a really strong base for her business.

Miriam Aber
Miriam is a graduate from the Department of Tailoring and Garment Cutting, and her clients find her in their compound on the Bweyale market. Miriam’s business enables her to increase the tailoring knowledge that she gained during her three-month vocational training. Now she can also provide for her basic needs and pay rent. Miriam shared that she is able to save about UGX 70,000/month. If she accumulates enough money, she would love to buy more materials, rent a shop, and begin trading materials. Miriam, like any other person doing business in the open market, finds that the weather greatly affects business; there is no place to keep her clothes out of the rain, and it’s difficult to work in the heat, so you need to seek shelter from a neighbour to continue working.

David Okello Tombee
David is a young, enthusiastic man who works hard to accomplish his goals. He started his business on the veranda of a friend’s shop, and managed to save enough money to rent a small area in the market where he has better exposure to customers and gets enough business to earn a living. David has started buying materials to make clothes— shirts, shorts, and skirts— which he sells during market day. David smiles as he thinks of starting up his own shop so that he can supply all of Bweyale with material and develop connections with schools to supply them with uniforms. From his humble beginning, David is an example of a youth who acquired a skill, and that particular skill has liberated his potential. He can now provide himself with basic needs and take care of his family. He faces challenges like record keeping, which affects him a little, and since there is no shelter in the market, his clothes are affected when it rains.

David Deng
David graduated from the Carpentry and Joinery Department, and started his workshop beside the road, among the trees. He set up his workbench and started making tables, chairs, and stools, which have attracted many people to come and buy his finished products. Although David works in a place where there is no shelter, he says he did not think about that; he just wanted to make sure he started something for himself so that he could generate income for himself and his family. Sheltered by the shade of the tress, David is quite optimistic that he will one day move from that open place to a closed workshop where he will work without thinking that rain or the sun could sabotage his business.  David has been able to get a few orders for making chairs, stools, and tables. Because he is strategically located by the road, he does not need advertising; his products advertise him and customers come. 



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