INEZA COOPERATIVE is a sewing cooperative based in Kigali, Rwanda that produces high quality, hand-made bags, accessories, and home decor items. It is staffed by twenty-five women who produce and market hand-made goods for sale domestically and abroad. Started in 2006 by WE-ACTx—an international NGO that specializes in comprehensive HIV/AIDS treatment for survivors of the genocide.
When WE-ACTx was founded in early 2004, the women of Ineza were among the organization’s most sick and impoverished patients. Since the cooperative’s inception, however, Ineza has provided both improved medical care for women and the tools for economic and social empowerment. Through its collective decision-making and small business model, Ineza provides its staff with a source of income as well as a physically and mentally rejuvenating sense of purpose. Since many of Ineza’s staff members are survivors of the 1994 Genocide, the cooperative also serves as a space for continued emotional healing from the trauma of mass murder and rape, physical injuries, loss of family members, and domestic violence.
By providing both emotional support and a means of financial independence, Ineza is a unique model of grass-roots economic development that produces quality of life gains on both a material and psychological level. Through in-house continuing education programs in design, sewing, management, computer skills, and marketing, Ineza staff members are constantly increasing their productive capacity and business savy.
INEZA COOPERATIVE is a member of the RWANDA FAIR TRADE ARTISAN’S ASSOCIATION which allows it to have access to the market either locally or internationally.