Promoting the health & well being of African women & their families in Minnesota

African Women's Sewing Cooperative

MAWA is proud to announce the creation of a Sewing Cooperative for African women in the Twin Cities. Located at the former Project Regina venue on Lake Street in Minneapolis, the Sewing Cooperative Project, is funded by the Federal Government Office of Refugee Resettlement. It is designed to provide recent African refugee women with the opportunity for greater self-sufficiency, job training, and employment in an area of work and with an approach that they have indicated will address the major challenges they face to employment.  A significant group of these African refugee women have indicated an interest in the opportunity to work part-time from their homes and have asked for training to gain a more professional level of sewing skills.   A second group of African refugee women are interested in gaining professional sewing skills and experience so that they can pursue jobs in community work places that will include carrying out clothing alterations for department stores or dry cleaning businesses.

While a number of the women who need to work part-time are interested in starting home-based businesses, they often are not in a position to do so because the public housing units in which they live will not allow them to operate a business from their residence.   In addition, a significant number of these refugee women would not be able to work in full-time or even a part-time job outside the home as a result of the many barriers to employment outside the home.    

The Sewing Cooperative is designed as a creative solution to these problems and barriers for African women.  A significant group of these African refugee women are primarily interested in gaining a source of supplemental income that will make a meaningful improvement in their family's standard of living.  This income will allow them to make some basic purchases for their children and themselves that are not available to them now.   For these women, the Sewing Cooperative is a perfect opportunity to work a good deal in their own homes while also maintaining a solid on-going connection to the Sewing Cooperative site.  Child care is provided for the women while they are working at the Sewing Cooperative. 

For the group of refugee women that will work part-time out of their homes, the Sewing Cooperative will also provide the important opportunity to interact and socialize with other African women.  This is of vital importance to their well-being in overcoming significant social isolation.  In addition, because the women will make money based on how much they produce they will have a relative ability to control how much they earn.  The program will leave future options open for these women.  Once they have completed their sewing course in the Sewing Cooperative, they will be in the position to seek a job in the community or to potentially develop a home-based business using their sewing skills if their life circumstances, interests, and needs change over time.

Currently, sewing classes hold 4 times a year - 3 hours a day, 4 days a week for a total of 80 hours. If you work with African refugee women who have an interest in sewing and you wish to enroll them, please call Ms. Hani Hussein at 763/218-2963 or email her at


Products from our cooperative can be purchased online at our shop on We will also take small orders of up to 200 items from businesses and other organizations. With the input of our participants, community members and partners, it was decided that our sewing cooperative will be producing the items listed below. Check back later for pictures of each item.

Make your school, clinic, hospital, church, etc., feel welcoming to your African clients/students by getting one or more of our African-dressed dolls to adorn your place of business. Even if you do not have clients or students, bring the warmth and cheer of Africa into your surrounding with these colorful and lovely dolls dressed in genuine African fabric and patterns. Another option will be to get these African women wall art made from African and other fabric. Just lovely!

Doctors and nurses can brighten their patients' day with scrubs having an African-theme! Hairdressers, hostesses, chefs and all those who know the beauty of the apron, can stand out from the crowd with these African-themed aprons.

We also produce tote bags with African themes and will take orders to produce African dance attire, choir uniforms and other dressing for your group, choir, etc.

Our other products include abayas of all colors with matching hijabs, shorter abayas for our Minnesota Winters and the famous African boubous/gandura - the loose royal and billowing robes worn by most Africans. We also knit and crochet; Check out these fabulous headbands including the ever-popular feather headbands and clips.

Do get ready for the Fall and Winter with these warm, handmade and rather unique flapper hats, berets and cloches.

By purchasing these items from our cooperative, you do the following great things:

  1. assist some African refugee  women earn supplemental income to help support their family and stay off of welfare;
  2. You support our non-profit to stay afloat and continue carrying on with our mission of "promoting the health and well-being of African women and their families in Minnesota"

You can also choose to donate to this sewing cooperative to enable us open up our doors to other low-income women and not only refugee women - go to and make the donation to Or simply click on the Paypal icon to the left of this webpage.

Here's a full list of what our cooperative produces:

  1. Abayas - of many colors
  2. Hijabs - to match abayas
  3. Shorter abayas
  4. Boubous/gandura
  5. Unisex jumpers
  6. African dressed dolls
  7. African-fabric women wall hangings
  8. Tote bags and other kinds of handbags, laptop carriers, etc.
  9. Handmade-9 flapper hats, cloches and berets
  10. Feather headbands and clips/French barrettes and other headbands

Contracts for (minimum order - 50; maximum - 200)

  1. Scrubs
  2. Hairdressing salon aprons
  3. Family reunion aso-ebi (= the uniformed attire most Africans wear at special occasions which identify them as a group or friends or family, etc.)
  4. Other aso-ebi - such as for weddings, alumni, teams, clubs, choir, dance group, youth group, etc. Forget the t-shirt! Get something lively and unique for your group!
  5. African dance attires/ensembles

We'll be putting up an order form soon. In the meantime, to place orders, email Ms. Hani Hussein at or call her at 763/218-2963.


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