Mwanza Sewing and Training Centre – MSTC


The Mwanza Sewing and Training Centre (MSTC) is a joint venture between a Tanzanian organisation, Small Industries Development Organisation (SIDO), and Tools for Solidarity (TFS).

MSTC opened in 2006 to help with the development of the tailoring sector among the poorest sections of both rural and urban areas of the Lake Zone of Tanzania.

Below you can watch a video about MSCT Project made by BBC back in 2006.

What support is offered by MSTC?

SIDO and MSTC aim to assist the development of artisan tailoring groups through the provision of sewing machines and training. On a monthly basis the centre organises training sessions for tailors. Each artisan purchasing a sewing machine can participate in a free one-week training in dress design, embroidery, maintenance & operation and business skills. MSTC also offers sessions of ‘Enhanced Maintenance Training’, an intensive training for a limited group of artisans from different districts who learn how to fix sewing machines to assists tailors. 

During the year 2022, 162 artisans attended the training and the centre allocated a total of 271 sewing machines (162 machines to individual artisans and 109 machines to Vocational Training Centres and NGOs). The project especially targets women. In 2022 women represented  87% of all the beneficiary tailors. The goal for 2023 is to allocate 244 sewing machines. 

How does MSTC operate?

MSTC employs 2 local people: a workshop coordinator and a senior mechanic. Their activities consist  of refurbishing sewing machines, organising the trainings for the artisans and promoting the project outside Mwanza. 

MSTC has been running for many years. It’s work is well known by the artisans of the Lake Zone. In the different districts, the artisans are contacted by local coordinators who assess their needs. MSTC receives many requests from tailors willing to attend the training course. They come not only from the Mwanza region, but also from other regions like Simiyu, Mara, Geita, Shinyanga… MSTC provides them with food and free accommodation for the whole duration of the training. At the end of the week, they receive a certificate of attendance attesting to the skills acquired.

“I work with SIDO-Mwanza from the start of the project. Knowing the industry I am able to compare this project to many others. And so far we managed to increase our collaboration and networking with the community and all other sectors. Personally I can see our success and achievements.”

Co-ordinator, Magu
Tailoring training at SIDO Offices, 2019

The centre is self-financing within the country which allows the project to develop in response to the needs of the tailoring sector. 

TFS started the project and supplied MSTC for many years. Since 2022 the sewing machines for the centre are being provided by the charity Work Aid based in England. TFS is still in charge of monitoring the project.

From left: Christina (Workshop Coordinator), Athman (MSTC senior mechanic), Emmanuel (MSTC junior mechanic), Manon (TFS partnership worker), Mr Songwe (SIDO Mwanza Regional Manager).

   Training at MSTC in 2010

   Training August 2023

Why do we refurbish sewing machines overseas?

The main approach of the project is that sewing machines are refurbished in Tanzania by two trained local mechanics. There are several advantages to it:

  1. Skills are transferred to the country where sewing machines are used;
  2. It facilitates the integration of maintenance, operational and design skill training;
  3. It offers the possibility to develop other services from the centre, such as technical training and local treadle production.

“I received a training from SIDO-MSTC on a maintenance and repair of sewing machines. And it’s definitely helped me. Now I’m capable to undertake all necessary maintenance to any kind of a sewing machine. Because of it I have many customers from different places of Magu District and it helps me to live fully.”

Fundi at Nyamikoma

Made in Tanzania treadles

One of the achievements of the Mwanza Sewing and Training Centre is the development of a local treadles production. Before that, it was impossible to find treadles in Tanzania therefore they were imported and expensive.

With the input of the Mwanza Sewing and Training Centre, a group of artisans created a new treadle design. Annually they produce hundreds of treadles in the region.

Made in Tanzania treadles, 2019

One main goal: supporting people with disabilities

People with disabilities in sub Sahara Africa have some of the hardest lives on the planet. One of the goals of MSTC is to help artisans with disabilities to acquire the resources and the skills to have a livelihood.

In 2022, MSTC provided 9 artisans with disabilities with free sewing machines and training. Another  11 people with disabilities received sewing machines during the first six months of 2023. 

In addition to that, the centre funds a programme to allow 2 young people with disabilities to attend one-year vocational training in tailoring at the Rosemiriam Dagg centre in Musoma. After graduation, the students also receive a sewing machine and  small capital to set up their businesses. 

The students with disabilities supported by MSTC at the Rosemiriam Dagg Centre. Here they are pictured after the completion of their training (April 2023).

Feedback from beneficiary artisans

“I bought 2 machines from SIDO-MSTC which made dramatic changes for my business. Later on I even managed to employ two people to help me with my work.”

Tailor in Runzewe-Bukombe

“I’m the Chairman of the small producers resource centre, which is operating under the Public Private sector Partnership policy. The MSTC-SIDO project made many changes in the lives of most tailors in Sengerema. Aside from that the project also enable our locals to gain entrepreneurship skills. As the result of it our members are doing much better and have more successful business than others.”

Coordinator, Sengerema

“Although I have been a tailor for quite some time I didn’t know how to sew suits. However when I got the training on dress designing from SIDO-MSTC I was able to start on my suits dream. Today I have a lot of people reaching out to me so that I sew suits for them. It is really impressing and helps me to improve my income.”

Female tailor (35 years-old) Kwimba District

We will update this page accordingly to the new information we get from both parties. As for now, we are happy to see the growth of our projects in Africa, especially when we receive feedback from artisans who participated in the training courses.