Mena Mode seeks to alleviate poverty in Niger by increasing female economic leadership through fashion and business. We focus on providing young girls with a specific skill set, professional development, and the tools for community involvement.
In July 2017, Mena Mode’s founder, Melissa Issa-Boube, was invited to attend the Clinton Global Initiative conference at Northeastern University in Boston, Massachusetts. The conference brings forth 1100 other commitment-makers who have pledged to make a change in one of these five areas: Education, Environment and Climate Change, Peace and Human Rights, Poverty Alleviation, and Public Health.
Mena Mode is committed to alleviate poverty in Niger.
To expand the brand, we sought talent in Niger to help meet the demand of orders. Niger ranks nearly last on the Human Development Index due to poor scores on indicators for; health, education, and standard of living. In addition, the country has the largest youth demographic in the world. This severely impacts the economy because most of this population cannot work. This demographic also affects the economic stability of women because mothers typically remain at home to care for their young. Nestor Coffi, the former World Bank country manager for Niger, explains that investing in the youth is crucial for the prosperity and future of the country.
Last summer, we hired Zeynabou Ali Amadou and taught her how to make the designs. She then taught three other girls the craft, and she currently manages production in Niger. Providing jobs for young girls is small start for our goal to alleviate poverty. We are working to build a school and storefront where more girls can learn to sew our designs and manage a shop. Upgrading their skill levels in a specific industry will ensure greater independence in their economic spheres. After one year, the girls will graduate with their sewing machines and they can start their own businesses. While at the school, they will learn about the craft of pattern making, designing, and sewing. They will also have monthly business classes from a guest professor of Abdou Moumouni University of Niamey to ensure a holistic education in fashion. Students can create a constant stream of income to support themselves and their families. Alumni from the previous class, will mentor the incoming class about sewing techniques and how to conduct business in Niger. This mentor model will foster a sense of community among women and promote a network for opportunities and support.
Focusing on female leadership and economic autonomy is important for Mena Mode because poverty in Niger disproportionally affects women. Two-thirds of the population is living on less than $1.90 a day, and most of that demographic is women. Men have twice the amount schooling, years of secondary education, and labor force participation. In 2015, the gross national per capita income for men was $1292 and $481 for women. Using Mena Mode to change these statistics will improve the current state of women, and the overall human development index of the entire country.
We have partnered with the NGO, Actions pour le au Développement Intégré à la base (ADI), to seek talent interested in the opportunity. This NGO works to develop female leadership and improve the health outlook for women and infants.
We have already found and acquired the land for the school and store front. We have also secured an architect, construction team, and production manager. We are currently raising funds for the initiative to begin building May 2018. In the meantime, we have begun selecting and drafting the initial designs that the first graduating class will learn to sew.
This effort was selected for the Clinton Global Initiative, among 1100 other game-changers because our goals are new, specific, and measurable. We are excited to represent Niger at the conference, and we hope that you can bring awareness to our work and current progress. Please feel free to contact us with any questions, photos, or information regarding our commitment.