Dispositif d’Initiatives pour les Métiers de l’Artisanat
Our mission is to give young people the skills to earn their living as artisans, to increase the incomes of practicing artisans, and to preserve traditional arts in Niger. We do this by providing training, equipment, and access to markets.
What we do
We are currently training young people in the trades of weaving, tailoring, and leather work.
We provide the instruction, all equipment, supplies and transportation to the school. There is no required educational background to enroll in the school, and students receive several years of training in the program. Our school is located in Niamey, Niger.
Dispositif d’Initiatives pour les Métiers de l’Artisanat (DIMA) was founded in 2015 when the government of Niger granted the organization nonprofit status. The free vocational training school was opened in Niamey, Niger, in 2017. Classes started with 15 students receiving three months of training in reading and writing.
After that, we set up a sewing workshop and the students began to learn tailoring. The training included lessons in sewing machine maintenance and repair and ran until July 2021. With a donation in 2019 from a group of Americans living in Niger, we acquired enough sewing machines for each student to have one to use.
In 2019, we opened a leather workshop and began training 15 teenagers. Over the summer break, DIMA arranged for several of the students to have apprenticeships at a major leather working cooperative in Niamey. All the leather working students received trained through July 2021. Also, in 2019, Remember Niger, an NGO headquartered in the United States, began providing financial support.
In 2020, in addition to continuing to train its regular students, DIMA trained 26 refugees from Mali in tailoring for several months with financial support from the International Committee for Emergency Aid and Development. The Support Fund for Vocational Training and Apprenticeship provided a couple of months of funding for our leather working program.
Also, in 2020, we launched a funding campaign on Global Giving to begin a weaving program. We raised enough funds to construct a shed to house the weaving equipment, install 5 traditional Nigerien looms and purchase tools and yarn. In February 2021, ten students began working under a master weaver skilled in tera-tera weaving, a traditional style of Nigerien weaving. A group of donors in the United States purchased and shipped a floor loom to the school.
The year 2021 also saw DIMA graduate the first cohort of tailoring and leather working students from our multi-year training programs. In October of 2021, we enrolled a new group of students in the tailoring and leatherworking programs. We doubled the size of enrollment to a total of 60 students.
Activities in 2022
- As of the end of December 2022, our latest group of tailoring and leather working students will have received a total of 12 months of training.
- We closed out our first Global Giving project, to start the weaving school, in January. Our goal had been to raise $10,000 and we received $16,593. We also started a new Global Giving project to fund the school’s activities. So far we have raised about $5000.
- In February we surveyed our first group of 36 graduates from July 2021. We were able to locate 33 of them and they all had paying work.
- Our students participated in a Ramadan market in April and sold 127 items made at the school.
- We received accreditation as a vocational training school from the Nigerien Ministry of Education. This will allow our certificates to be used as proof of training around the country when our graduates apply for jobs and should make us eligible for funding from various government agencies.
- We were able to provide modest increases in wages to the staff.
- Dr. Amanda Gilvin, an art historian with expertise in West African weaving, gave 4 talks to weaving guilds about Nigerien weaving and our school. She raised $700 for us.
- The Remember Niger Coalition continued to be a valued supporter of our work.
- Friends of Niger gave us two grants. One grant was for supplies for the classrooms. The other grant will help cover expenses for a training program in tailoring we plan to start in early 2023 for patients at a national obstetric fistula clinic.
- The US Embassy in Niamey gave us a grant to purchase 20 sewing machines and a variety of other equipment and tools for our sewing classroom. This was an urgent need as we had doubled the number of students without adding additional equipment.
- L’Association des Nigérians Résidents en Italie and the Ministère de la Culture du Tourisme et de l’Artisanat also provided financial support.
- Dr. Genevieve Hill-Thomas, a professor at the Ringling College of Art & Design, donated two floor looms and a table loom to the school. She also donated her time to hold a two-week workshop at the school to train four experienced weavers and our weaving students on how to use the looms. To take advantage of this opportunity, we postponed some other projects and shifted funding to this activity.
- Total expenditures were $42,589 USD.
Activities planned for 2023
- We want to continue training in weaving, tailoring, or leather work as part of a multi-year program for our currently enrolled students
- We would like to raise enough funds to continue to improve the wages for our staff.
- We want to improve the equipment in the leather working classroom.
- We want to add training in making home furnishings to our sewing program.
- After evaluating the results of the weaving workshop held in December 2022, we will implement a plan to improve opportunities for weavers in Niger.
- We will develop a plan to start offering training in business skills in 2024.
- We will investigate the feasibility of adding a new cohort of students in the fall of 2023.
- We will provide 9 months of training in tailoring to 30 patients at a national obstetrical fistula clinic. We want to raise enough funding to give each student a sewing machines, so that when they return to their villages they have a way to make a living.
- As funds become available, we will provide 9 months of training and improve the equipment in a workshop for an association of leather workers who are survivors of polio.
- We will develop plans to expand our programs into rural areas in 2024.
Desired expenditures for 2023
We have set priorities on the activities we wish to do in 2023. As funding becomes available, we will fund activities in order of importance. Our primary priority is to maintain the training for our currently enrolled students.
A major portion of our funding has come from small donors. However, in 2022, we saw growth in funding from organizations. We were able to double our expenditures to match our increased level of activity in comparison with 2021. We will continue to cultivate both sources of funding. As we accumulate evidence of our effectiveness, we are optimistic that we will be attractive to additional funders.