Partnership Group


Over the years TFS has supplied tools to numerous countries in the southern hemisphere. These include Ghana, Nicaragua, Sierra Leone, Tanzania and Zimbabwe. Most of the countries are in sub-Saharan Africa, the poorest region in the world.

Our work between 1984 and 2007

From 1984 to 2006 TFS was supporting groups of artisans and Vocational Training Colleges by supplying kits or boxes of tools. Throughout the years we made a few assessments and the information on target groups has improved.

In 2006 we found out that the groups we were supporting required much more than just tools. One vital element that was missing was training; both for use of tools and their maintenance. For years Tools For Solidarity was thinking about the idea of providing support to the groups by establishing a centre in the country.

A new approach since 2007

In 2007 we were able to establish a sewing machine and refurbishment centre in Mwanza, Tanzania together with our partner Small Industries Development Organisation (SIDO). Instead of refurbishing sewing machines in Belfast, it’s now possible to do it in Tanzania.

There are several advantages to this approach:

  • Skills transfer to the country where sewing machines are used;
  • Allows people to choose the type of machine they want (within a suitable price);
  • Helps developing other goods and services (technical training or treadle production);
  • The centre operates on a self financing basis. The tailors (mainly women) buy a sewing machine at a reasonable price and get a free week of training in design or embroidery, basic operation and maintenance and business skills.

The gained experience

So far the sewing and training centre in Mwanza has provided more than 3000 sewing machines and trained more than 1500 tailors, covering an area 1.5 times the size of Ireland.

The centre also has other significant benefits:

  • The promotion and fabrication of locally made sewing machine treadle bases;
  • The training of sewing machine mechanics in the area to increase maintenance;
  • The centre employs three local people and provides income generation activities to indirect beneficiaries such as tailoring trainers, metal workers and mechanics.

In more recent years TFS has worked to establish two Artisan Support Centres in the Southern Highlands of Tanzania: the Njombe Centre (2020) and the Iringa Centre (2023). They both supply sewing machines and tools to local artisans and tailors. For more information visit the section ‘Projects in Africa’ in our website.

Our Partnership Workers

Want to become a TFS partner? Have a look at our Partners’ Info booklet and contact us for more information!