In Sitio Tambor, families do not have a lot of options when their children’s arms outgrow their sleeves or their pants become too short. The tiny Brazilian village is located on a country road in the eastern state of Paraíba, far from shopping centers or reliable internet access for online purchases. And with a high poverty rate, buying new clothes is unaffordable for most.
For decades, village kids depended on donations from the local chapter of Rotary, the international service club. But when COVID-19 hit, donations dried up and the mothers of Sitio Tambor went on a desperate hunt for a viable alternative. That’s how Costurando Esperança — Sewing Hope — began.
They envisioned it as a sewing collective where, for a small monthly fee to buy supplies and maintain their equipment, women would make clothes for families in their communities and also sell them to others to gain financial independence for themselves. Globally, many women struggle to gain financial autonomy. According to the most recent Mastercard Index of Women Entrepreneurs, 80% of the world’s women-owned businesses with credit needs are either unserved or underserved, and only 10% of all existing policy measures take gender into account and address women’s specific needs.
It’s even harder for women in a region like Sitio Tambor, where employment opportunities are scant and cultural biases against working women still exist. So, despite their entrepreneurial spirit, the founders of Costurando Esperança quickly discovered they lacked the knowledge and resources for such an undertaking.
They turned to the Campina Grande do Sul Rotary — the same group that had been making donations — and met member Philipe Moura, a Paraíba native who now works in Brasilia as a director for government and public services in Mastercard’s Data & Services business. Impressed with their concept and brimming with ideas about how to help, he recruited four of his colleagues in the company’s Brasilia and São Paulo offices to get involved.
With the help of Mastercard’s Young Professionals organization, they created a course on entrepreneurship, designed to be accessible to the residents in Sitio Tambor, where illiteracy rates are high — another obstacle to financial independence. The women fully embraced it.
Read more at mastercard.com.