Following its launch in October 2021, the Kafawa Training Program, a partnership between My World of Bags and the Mastercard Foundation, has formally graduated its first set of fully-trained leather industry artisans, entrepreneurs, craftsmen, and women.
TheKafawa Training Program’s focus is to train young Nigerian women and men in leather and non-leather manufacturing work. The program up-skills young Nigerians in artisanal work and provides them with the tools they need to find work opportunities or to venture into entrepreneurship. To date, the program has enrolled over 400 young women and men through in-person and virtual sessions.
Speaking at the graduation ceremony, Femi Olayebi (Creative Director, FemiHandbags), explained that through initiatives like this, the company has sought out ways to level the playing field and improve access for Nigerian MSMEs operating in the leather space. The goal, therefore, for Kafawa is to drive the growth of the leather sector and improve youth unemployment rates.
“We are encouraged by the enormous potential that exists across Nigeria’s youth group and we are excited to be creating channels that will tap into that potential. Through Kafawa, hundreds of young dreamers have started defining their goals and taking control of their futures, and we are immensely proud of their progress and achievements. We are honoured to be driving such change, and we look forward to deepening this impact in the coming years,” said Olayebi.
Commenting on the program, Chioma Nwagboso (MSME Finance Lead for Mastercard Foundation) revealed that one key area of the Foundation’s charitable objectives is access to learning, of which the Kafawa Training Program is ideally aligned to this purpose. “We are grateful to our partner, My World of Bags, for creating opportunities for young people in Nigeria to thrive and succeed. We are confident that the Kafawa graduates will use their newly-acquired technical and soft skills to reach their full potential,” she said.
In Nigeria, Mastercard Foundation’s Young Africa Works strategy seeks to enable access to dignified work for 10 million youth by 2030 – with a 70% focus on women – across the agricultural and adjacent sector, the creative industry, and through digital interventions. Beyond access and empowerment, Kafawa’s vision is to change the narrative around production, tailoring, and manufacturing jobs, with most of the program’s recent graduates starting their own businesses or joining the workforce.
“When I see my work and I’m able to do things that I thought were impossible, it gives me inspiration that I can do more. Kafawa has given me so much hope for a future, so much hope as a shoemaker,” said a recent graduate, Opeyemi Okanlawon.
The graduating cohort received completion certificates, and in some cases, certificates of achievement for outstanding performance. In addition, following a trade test (held earlier) administered by the Nigerian Ministry of Labour, Productivity, and Employment, candidates received national certification, which qualifies them to operate as fully-fledged leather artisans. There were also business awards and grants given to the top graduating students, courtesy of Lagos Leather Fair.
Kafawa is set to roll out the next set of training sessions in late 2022.