The SOKO Community Trust is the community outreach arm of the ethical clothing factory, SOKO, that operates within the same Export Processing Zone as Wildlife Works and with whom we share knowledge and implement community projects.
Soko and their clients invest in initiatives that support the community in which they produce: Maungu, Kenya, where Wildlife Works’ Kasigau Corridor REDD+ Project operations are based. The SOKO Community Trust’s initiatives aim to provide people with the practical skills needed to lift themselves out of poverty.
On 22th June 2016, The Trust celebrated the launch of two new programs: Stitching Academy Hub and the Pipeline Roadshow
Wildlife Works Community Relations Officer, Joseph Mwakima, presents at the Launch event
Stitching Academy Hub
The Stitching Academy Hub is a new sewing machine facility that offers graduates of the Stitching Academy, a seamstress training facility run by SOKO Community Trust, use of industrial sewing machinery for the further development of their sewing skills, career development, and technological skills advancement. The Hub seeks to provide a platform for innovation and creativity in creating viable business ideas as well as strengthen Academy graduates:
- Entrepreneurial culture,
- Business education,
- Financial and computer literacy, and
- Employability skills.
Stitching Academy graduates wave hello from the new Stitching Academy Hub
Stitching Academy graduates dancing to celebrate the Hub Launch
The Hub launch ceremony was attended by County administrators, local chiefs, religious leaders, members of the community as well as a team of representatives from the ASOS Foundation, the charitable division of the large online retailer ASOS, which provides funding for SOKO Community Trust’s projects.
The nine students who have so far graduated from the Stitching Academy’s three-month course also participated in the launch. Milka Mwende, who was unable to complete primary school, graduated from the Stitching Academy, said that she loves sewing and she hopes to make a living out of it using the Hub facilities.
The main benefit of the Hub is to help young people like, Milka, who struggled in school gain practical skills and find ways to sustain themselves.
Milka Mwende practices her newly acquired sewing skills at the Stitching Academy Hub
Rob Dodson, Vice President African Field Operations Wildlife Works, spoke during the launch saying that the Stitching Academy Hub help to bridge the difficult gap between education and finding full time work.
The SOKO Community Trust also launched the Pipeline Roadshow, a traveling team of professionals who train, support and offer services to the local community. The launch services provided free eye exams by experts and trained community members from the Kwale District Eye Centre. The Pipeline Roadshow’s goals are to support:
- Financial literacy,
- Family health and planning,
- Young women’s health, and
- Free eye clinic.
Community members waiting to be seen by eye doctor
Woman from the community receiving an eye test from women trained by the Kwale District Eye Centre
Elderly woman being examined by the eye doctor
Community members receiving eyeglasses and eye drops
The Maungu eye clinic screened over 230 patients, distributed nearly 150 eye drops and 90 glasses, and identified nine patients for cataract surgery. All services were free, except the glasses, which cost 50 Kenyan Shillings, the equivalent of 5 US cents. The Pipeline Roadshow will now continue to a further five villages around the Kasigau area to bring health and entrepreneurial benefits to the local communities.
Wildlife Works, SOKO Community Trust and ASOS Foundation believe these initiatives are a key strategy for stimulating self-employment and creation of jobs and will continue to work together to bring these benefits to the local community.