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Ibaba Développement is all about new beginnings. In a country in the throes of reconstruction, a group of women are promoting their fine embroidery expertise worldwide under the Ibaba Rwanda label, acquiring professional autonomy and kickstarting the local economy in Rutongo, north of Kigali.
The art of fine embroidery underpins this project’s multiple aims: to protect and revive traditional expertise through the transfer of artisan skills, to establish a business model based on social solidarity, and to accompany the women embroiderers to autonomy and self-determination. Since 2013, the not-for-profit association Ibaba Développement has re-established a workshop originally founded in the 1970s by a community of Belgian nuns to help girls learn a trade and attain economic stability and independence – a social and artisan success story that was tragically interrupted by the genocide perpetrated against the country’s Tutsi population in 1994.
Today, thirty women embroiderers work full-time at the cooperative workshop in Rutongo, creating hand-made fashion accessories and home furnishings in quality fabrics. Combining tradition and modernity, their sophisticated creations are marketed worldwide under the Ibaba Rwanda label. The not-for-profit association Ibaba Développement partners the brand’s development in new markets, through a skill-sharing dynamic with other creative design companies.
A new training centre is due to open soon, combining embroidery, sewing and management skills, helping this exceptional artisan tradition to enhance its creativity, productivity and marketing. The project is supported by Fondation d’entreprise Hermès as part of the second edition of our H³ programme (Heart – Head – Hand).