Creating a livelihood through carpentry training – Iragi's story

Initial vocational education and training
19-year-old Iragi trained in carpentry and entrepreneurship in Bukavu in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Today, she makes furniture and sells it to households in her neighbourhood.
Iragi Etau

Iragi's father is a photographer and her mother a seamstress. Before the carpentry training, Iragi stayed at home to help her mother with sewing.

"I didn't earn money helping my mother, it was her job and her only way to support my father and the whole family, and of course I couldn't ask her to pay me, it is a daughter's duty to help her parents."

Iragi never liked sewing but there were no other options available to her but to help out her mother. After all, the sewing helped to provide for the whole family.

One day, one of Iragi's friends told her about a training course provided by PROMOST, a project implemented by Swisscontact and funded by the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC). Her friend persuaded her that this training was a great opportunity and it did not take long for Iragi to believe it since her friend had just completed PROMOST's tutored apprenticeship training.

"I decided to go and talk to one of the trainers my friend had told me about. My goal was to start the training immediately, as I was tired of sitting at home waiting for my mother to need me and I was determined to take any opportunity that would give me a goal and objectives to achieve. Unfortunately, the trainer told me to wait for another round of training. So I went home sad but eager for the trainings to start again."

When the courses restarted, the trainer encouraged Iragi to go and register, which she did not hesitate to do. She then started her one-year-long carpentry training. After completing her training, Iragi was immediately hired by her trainer:

"When I was working for my trainer, I started saving as much money as possible because I wanted to have my own workplace."

It didn't take her long because after working for her trainer for a few months, she finally quit her job, bought her own tools and started her own business at the local Confederation of Craftspeople (Confédération Monde des Artisans).

Today, Iragi makes furniture and sells it to households in her neighbourhood where she has a small place to display her products.

After the carpentry training, Iragi also attended another entrepreneurship training organised by PROMOST, where she learned that satisfied customers always come back and will refer the business to other clients. It is this working attitude that helps her to continue to develop and win new markets.

"The sale of my products brings me between 25 and 30 USD per week".

She is grateful to PROMOST and all those people involved in the project because, thanks to PROMOST, Iragi and so many other young people have been able to change their lifestyle and do something important with their lives.

Watch this video with more examples of women in manual trades challenging gender stereotypes (with English subtitles)