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Fashion for empowerment

The name Dorovee is new to many people in the country, no doubt about that. But it is surely taking up its place in the world of fashion.

In modern world, fashion is moving at a fast pace where every jim and jack does not want to be left behind.

Men and women are on their toes making sure they are fast at getting whatever wears to move with fashion.

And Dorovee has not been left behind as far as fashion is concerned although it has taken a new direction and that is of empowering women.

According to the brains behind Dorovee, Vanessa Nsona, who is a Young African Leaders Initiative (Yali) fellow, Dorovee is a fashion social enterprise that focuses on making unique eco-friendly quality fashion accessories such as bags, shoes and necklaces using local indigenous raw materials.

Nsona also said that they use recycled waste to craft fashion items while economically empowering deprived women through training them to craft the products as a way of income generation.

“Dorovee is currently working with women from Malawi Association of the Deaf to craft the fashion accessories. The designs of the fashion products are inspired by the Malawian story such as the Ngoni clutch and Maravi sandals,” she said.

Nsona said Dorovee has mentorship programme whose aim is to bring together willing and driven young women who have dreams and passion they want to pursue.

She maintained that the focus for Dorovee is on building entrepreneurial spirits through fashion and arts.

“Through the programme mentees reflect on their vision and achieve their goals with the guidance and advice that is provided by me,” she said.

She said that there are lots of women in the country who have talents and that they need to be mentored as part of empowering them.

“I realised that I have the talent but I cannot keep it to myself, I need to pass it on to others and this is why I thought of working with different women. With the little resources I have I have managed to reach out to a lot of women who are now making their bread and butter through fashion,” Nsona said.

Having been mentored with different skills during her Yali fellowship in USA which also saw him visiting among others universities and companies involved in fashion, Nsona said it was important that he spreads these skills.

The Dorovee founder said she also links mentees with other skilled experts in fields that may be critical for their development.

“I am not yet there but I am glad that the programme is bearing fruits. All I want is for more women to be empowered and to know that they can use local materials to produce different items in fashion,” she said.

Nsona said Dorovee believes in using simple materials to create items that are of top quality and appealing out there.

“We have different local materials that we normally neglect and prefer getting expensive raw materials out there,” she said.

Nsona officially launched the mentorship programme on February 1, 2017.

“I remember when I ventured out in my business some years ago I never really had anyone to guide me through. I would reach out to people I looked up to that inspired me but they hardly ever gave me the attention,” she explained.

Nsona said she has always had a burning need to run a mentorship programme through her experiences.

“I know there are so many other young women who want to reach their dreams but do not know how to or those already working on their projects but need extra encouragement and direction,” said the fashion designer.

Nsona prides in giving motivational talks in different platforms among them Jacaranda School for Orphans, University of Malawi – The Polytechnic, Zigwangwa Secondary School and in other African countries.

“One thing I have noticed is the amount of people that approach me after the events that have been inspired by my story. They eagerly tell me about their work and I have always thought to myself yes I have told them my story, I may have inspired some people but what more can I do to ensure that even after we all leave the people who have been inspired still have momentum,” she said.

Nsona added:

“What I have seen is reality quickly sinks back in when you realise that you do not have the money to start the business, family and friends do not support you or things are just not working out for you. In other words we quickly get consumed back to this thing called life.”

She said she was grateful that to be a Yali fellow adding that this programme opened up so many opportunities for her.

“I too have mentors internationally and locally like Grace Mijiga, Rachel Sibande and David Tanki. I have also participated in mentorship programmes under Strive Mwasiya programme called Expretprep and another by the Irex with Mandela Washington fellows,” she said.

Nsona said all these programmes have played a valuable role to helping her excel with her goals and initiatives.

“I want to be able to share my experiences, knowledge, skills and resources that I have to others that may be seeking them this is why this mentorship programme is so important to me,” the Dorovee founder said.

She said the Dorovee mentorship programme is currently working with a small group of young women.

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