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"I'm going to train 5,000 women and girls to make reusable sanitary pads"

28 May 2024

SWEDD en action

Macka Chérif Mahamat, an entrepreneur to the core, launched her dressmaking workshop in the Chadian capital N'Djamena, Sisters Design, in 2015. It now employs 30 women. Regarded as a female role model by the SWEDD project, she is driving its expansion while also sharing her success through women’s groups.


Macka, 29, single and without children, comes from a modest family in the capital N’Djamena. While studying biomedical engineering in Sudan, she also studied the design of headscarves worn by Muslim women. On returning to Chad in 2015, she launched her company, Sisters Design. After analysing gaps in the market, she became convinced it had potential when she successfully made the headscarves worn by the bridal party at her brother’s wedding.

Her interest in medicine is still evident in her catalogue, which also includes gowns, aprons, visors, caps, surgical masks and washable sanitary towels. Macka approaches overcoming obstacles with a strong spirit and this Winston Churchill quote in mind: “Success is going from failure to failure without losing your enthusiasm.”

Rather than talking about the difficulties, she prefers to talk about her successes. And with good reason: in six years, Sisters Design has grown from 5 to 30 employees, and the company is in robust health with annual sales of 108 million CFA francs (around $178,800).

Macka continues to expand her horizons, with specific goals in mind. She is aiming to secure the market in the country’s hospitals with her offering of personal protective supplies, and also to train 5,000 women and girls in the manufacture of reusable sanitary towels, with the support of UNFPA.  Another plan for the future is to export these sanitary towels to countries that are part of the SWEDD project, by launching a network of mobile stores.

To market her products, Macka has formed 12 women’s groups in the provinces and a group of 90 women in the capital, N’Djamena. Since 2017, she has found various sources of funding to grow her business. She has forged partnerships with the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA),the Institute for Innovative Technologies for Development (TECHNIDEV), the National Office for Youth and Sports Support (ONAJES) and the Ministry of Youth and Sports, as well as the Youth Network for Development and Leadership in Chad (RJDLT), for which she has been coordinator.

Driven by a keen desire to share, she has supported several young women entrepreneurs, including Yayam Alida, who received a cheque for 50,000 CFA francs and three months’ technical support. Fatimé Ahmat Garbao, a home-based seamstress who owns her own machine, is another of the women who have received professional and financial empowerment from Sisters Design.

 

Find out how the SWEDD project is changing lives in Chad and across sub-Saharan Africa in the book SWEDD in Action: Promoting Women's Full Potential here 

SWEDD en Action