Uganda Project Received Our Tools

When people donate tools to us in Belfast we make sure that it will go to people in Africa. Some of them we leave until a big shipment and some go straight into the box for our partners. That is exactly what happened to these tools.

Whenever we send our tools and sewing machines that you donate to us, we never know for sure when they will arrive to Africa. This time we had an extraordinary situation when only after more than two years, our partner in Soroti (Uganda) has finally received our tools carpentry. But as many people say, better late than never!

We are more than happy to receive news from our partner. Especially when it’s something connected to shipment. Also it is a great thing when they send us photos of people working with tools from Belfast in Africa. Because we already know that it will be in a well use!

If you have unwanted tools or a sewing machine we are always happy to receive it as a donation from you. To find out more about it, please contact us and we will give you full information!

Partnership Update


In September a field trip was made to Tanzania and Uganda to visit existing and prospective partners. It proved to be a very challenging trip but also one that could offer up new projects to support artisans in other parts of Tanzania.


The journey started in Dar Es Salaam, where we paid a visit to SIDO Headquarters (Small Industries Development Organisation) to discuss the upcoming visits and what TFS was hoping to achieve. It has been a long time since we looked to try and establish another project in Tanzania. Given the existing capacity of TFS to develop and sustain ASC (Artisan Support Centres) the prospect of us doing another project by ourselves is not a realistic option. However over the last several months we have been in negotiations with a Dutch tools organisation called BWW (Betuwe Wereldwijd) to work together on such projects. This has involved co-operation on the tailoring support centre in Mwanza, MSTC (Mwanza Sewing and Tailoring Centre), which was established in 2007. In discussions with the SIDO officials we explained the ideas behind ASC – provide sewing machines and tools coupled with a training and maintenance package. It was also stressed that we were looking to visit as many regions as possible to look to develop pilot schemes next year. In total we visited 4 regions. These were:

1. Dar Es Salaam – Coastal Zone
2. Morogoro – Coastal Zone
3. Iringa – Southern Zone
4. Kilimanjaro – Northern Zone

Meetings were organised with SIDO officials in each region and a presentation and discussions were held. We also brought, with us, some tools to show the quality and type of tools that would be available within the project. It was important during these visits that all potential partners were fully aware of the aims and objectives of the pilots.


TFS is proposing to run 2 pilots which will provide both sewing machines (about 100 machines for each pilot) and tools (500 each pilot). We will look to use the tailoring centre in Mwanza (Lake Zone Region of Tanzania) to provide training and support.

The visits were both useful and informative. We met several SIDO officials, though in some cases because of other commitments and short notice we were unable to meet some regional managers. Feedback regarding the project was positive with many regions wanting TFS to establish such a project.


Some artisans were visited by SIDO and TFS officials. Carpenter’s showed interest in the tools we had brought and were willing to pay high prices for them

1. Two chisels and a sliding bevel – 20,000 TSh
2. Braces bits between
10- 20,000 TSh per piece

They were also very interested in electrical machinery and had paid millions of shillings for some items.
Sewing machine prices ranged from:-

1. Chinese straight stitch treadle for 210-240,000 TSh
2. White plastic embroidery domestic for 600,000 TSh
3. Industrial sewing machine for 1,200,000 TSh


After discussions with our partners we made contact with 2 SIDO regional managers to to determine if they would be interested in working with us to run pilot projects. They were very interested and we are now in negotiations with SIDO HQ to assess if these pilots can go forward. We are hoping to hear from SIDO HQ later in April and we will keep everyone posted of the outcome.

We have been informed of changes within the tax regime regarding the importation of materials for projects into Tanzania. The tax exemption that existed for many years has changed and this has and will impact shipping to projects in the future. At this stage we do not know what the financial figure will be but there will be a big increase in clearance costs which we will have to address with our partners.


We had arrived in Jinja hoping to determine how the ASTC (Artisn Support and Training Centre) project was getting on and to determine if they had achieved the targets set in April. Since then we had been receiving reports but they were both poor and the information in them was unclear.

Once we had gone through the records and finances it showed that the project had started to deliver on the targets that had been set. They had provided 40 sewing machines and 1,100 tools in a 4 month period (target for the first year was 50 sewing machines and 2,300 tools). The finances also tallied with the income generated and expenditure incurred.



While things on the surface appeared satisfactory events were about to unfold quite dramatically and would end up a few months later with the project being stopped.

On arriving we were made aware that the junior mechanic had been dismissed. It later transpired that he had been caught stealing and the police did not prosecute, due to the small number of items taken. After this WORI conducted an audit but they failed to notice that many more tools were missing. The security and record keeping of stock was the responsibility of the senior mechanic. Given the large number of tools missing we had no alternative but to report this to the police. They then investigated the senior mechanic in the disappearance of the tools but no evidence was found against him and he was released.

All of this happened before we arrived and we were not informed of this. When Rose was asked why the junior mechanic had been sacked she informed us it was for poor performance. While they had done the right thing in doing a stock take they failed to notice hundreds of missing tools. It was extremely disappointing that we had spent most our time dealing with a crisis leaving little time to visit tailors and other artisans.

In an emergency meeting with Rose we discussed the future of the project given all the events and the loss of both tools mechanics. Since the project had developed a growing network and there was clearly a demand for its services we looked to see if we could get a way to maintain the project. Several options were considered and it was decided to increase the number of sewing machines and to send out only refurbished tools until such time that a new tools mechanic could be trained. This was all dependent on project changes being accepted by the funders of the project.

The one remaining area that we needed to gather information on was the delivery of training. There were some concerns regarding this when we were in Uganda but we had no time to fully investigate these. We contracted another organisation in Uganda to conduct an evaluation of the training and information gathered demonstrated that we had been misinformed by Rose on some points. To try and clarify the situation we formally requested information from Rose regarding expenditure. She refused and to be honest we were astonished by her response. This was not only a clear breach of the agreement that she had signed but was not the sort of thing you do with partners who have helped to get funds and resources to work on a joint project. This left TFS with no option but to cancel the project.

Funders were informed and money returned for the second year of the project and we were left with trying to secure the resources from the project so that they could be reallocated to other projects aimed at supporting artisans. Unfortunately Rose has shown herself to be extremely devious and has set herself out to keep all the money and resources. After communicating with the WORI committee (most of whom had not been informed by Rose and who were shocked by her actions) we have been trying with some members of the committee to get the resources released so that we can fulfil our obligation under the project agreement. This process has been on going and we will keep everyone informed.

Given the attitude of Rose to the partnership and her actions regarding the resources of ASTC, other organisations looking to work with WORI should be extremely careful. Rose clearly does not honour the terms, conditions or spirit in which external organisations try to assist in WORI’s activities.

Hot Of The Press

As you all may have already known, John and Francesca have visited Uganda and Tanzania. They have been helping our new VORI project with it’s first footsteps as well as checking the MSTC wokshop in Mwanza. Below you can find Francesca’s report about what has been going on so far.


When we arrived at the beginning of February the container hadn’t arrived yet and the workshop building was just starting.
Two months later the workshop is finished and functioning, while the new container has been emptied and transformed into the office for the manager. By the end of next week we will also be completing the training room.

uganda1Checking and refurbishment of tools has started and the 50 sewing machines provided this year will all be refurbished by the beginning of next week. It has been intense and hard work.

Due to the late arrival of the container allocation of tools and sewing machines has not started yet, but we hope to catch up in the next months

Due to the late arrival of the container allocation of tools and sewing machines has not started yet, but we hope to catch up in the next months


Meanwhile, after waiting for quite a long time, Rambia a group from Western Uganda which requested tools from us over a year ago, was able to visit ASTC and collect a building kit, a carpentry kit and two electric sewing machines for their project. Was quite a challenge to transport all of this on a boda-boda (motorcycle taxi). We hope they will make good use of the tools and the sewing machines and we wish them all the luck for their project.


On the 22th of March we travelled to Mwanza and visit the MSTC project for one week.
The project is building up its capacity after the fire disaster in July 2013. New shelves and a new grinder room have been built, including a storage space for the material purchased with funds from Lloyds.

In 2014 MSTC trained nearly 100% of the tailors receiving sewing machine from the centre. This is an incredible result and reason of pride for MSTC and TFS. The trip was also an opportunity to go and visit some of the groups whom received support from MSTC during the years. Groups are happy with both the machines and the training programme and some of them actually requested more training in both maintenance and dress design.


The centre is currently employing two members of staff, Christina (training officer) and Athman (workshop mechanic). The visit was also an opportunity to meet Jane, the former MSTC manager, and thank her for her work in developing MSTC.

Stay tuned for more news!