Village Weavers Network
To empower communities through innovation and recycling
To facilitate sustainable livelihoods for families through women-led economic activities
To promote community-led learning, sharing and training
The Village Weavers Network started in September 2010 under the name “The Weaving Network.” The founder Ella Smit, a Dutch national living with her family in Abuja, Nigeria sought to help her underprivileged neighbours squatting in an uncompleted housing complex by teaching them how to weave discarded fabric materials (from tailor shops around town) into beautiful multi-coloured rugs.
As luck would have it, Ella came up with the idea while sitting on some Egyptian rugs she had gotten over 20 years ago. She looked closely for the first time at the rugs and realized the rugs were made from old t-shirts. This realization led her to experiment with some left over fabric she had. She had a wooden weaving frame made and with left over fabric pieces she had and some weaving thread, she made a beautiful rug using principles she learnt during her arts and craft class when she was in elementary school back in the Netherlands. Upon completion, she decided to reach out to Mama Biu (her neighbour) who prior to meeting Ella, had been selling bean cakes for a living and was unable to send her children to school. After learning the weaving skill, Mama Biu now earns a comfortable income from weaving and has been able to send her children to school and additionally, is now building her house. This is just one success story of many weavers who have benefited tremendously from this Network.
The goal of the Village Weavers Network is to promote sustainable livelihoods for women in rural as well as urban communities in Nigeria. Our Network is viable because our materials are all locally sourced and there is a demand for the rugs. Most importantly the fabric used to make these beautiful multi-coloured rugs are in abundance in Nigeria because Nigerians wear a lot of tailor made Ankara clothes. Prior to our Network, most tailors simply threw away left over fabric pieces, now, we have been able to liaise with a network of tailors who give us their discarded pieces for our weavers.
We make different types of rugs and place mats in addition, these rugs can and have been used as art pieces and wall decorations. We plan to diversify our range to include throw pillows, duvets, computer bags and oven gloves and other kitchen appliance covers.
We are looking to establish links with networks not just in Nigeria but also around the world that support sustainable enterprises and grassroots development projects. We hope to widen our market especially in developed countries.
In December, 2012, the Co-founder and Project Director, Amarachi Igboegwu was invited by the US Mission in Kampala to speak about the Project at a TEDTalk hosted by the United States Embassy in Uganda in collaboration with the US State Department and the Office of Global Youth Issues..