Cecelia is one ATE’s great success stories. In less than three years, she’s gone from being someone with no business at all to a seamstress with two apprentices and her own property.

Back in February 2016, we were so impressed by Cecelia we decided to take a punt and do something we’d never done before – set her up in a business from scratch. Not only did we give her a grant to buy a sewing machine and materials, but we also rented a workshop for her. As the business developed, Cecelia took on responsibility for renting the premises herself – and now, she’s built her own place, with space for work and for living (when it’s completely finished) with her husband and two children.

Not content with just dress-making, Cecelia is diversifying, and has a little side line selling gari (a cassava-based product), sugar and groundnuts outside her premises and also at church on Sundays. She goes to Tizza weekly market to buy the provisions. Her property is set back from the road, so she’s aware that maybe she should create some kind of advertising or marketing for both businesses.

But for Cecilia, the sewing will always come first. She can make about two dresses a day and usually works from 7.30-5.30, Monday to Friday. If she could change one thing about her business, she’d like to be able to make the trendier style of clothes – but she says she needs a ‘designer’ sewing machine to make the modern stitches.

Her favourite part of the work – she loves sewing on the arms of a dress because it means she’s almost finished, and she enjoys dealing with customers.

“I am very grateful for ATE support and pray ATE gets a long life and reaches every needy soul, just like it helped me.”