Digital embroidery and the fight against unemployment among young Congolese

By Bernardin SEBAHIRE

Researcher/ ISDR/ Bukavu

Access to employment for young people remains a crucial problem in the DRC. According to the latest U-report survey by the United Nations Children’s Fund (Unicef), 78% of young people questioned are unemployed. In addition, 25% of young people do not find job opportunities in their fields of study. Public administration, private companies and NGOs do not offer them enough job opportunities after their studies. For some jobs offered to young people, the requirement of years of experience remains an obstacle for them. To survive despite their diplomas, many young Congolese are getting into resourcefulness.

Luc Mushagalusa Saiga, a young entrepreneur, with a degree in project management, chose to undertake in the embroidery sector. For Luc, “digital embroidery is about transforming the logo, the images into sewing. So the drawing, we put it on the clothes with the thread. Digital embroidery being a new technology here in Bukavu, replaces screen printing (everything we do with paint, with transfer paper, we do with thread; it’s more durable and more aesthetic too. You see on the uniforms of police officers, administrative officers and other people, there is the logo and all this logo there, we cannot put it with the paint because as soon as we wash it, it will discolor but with the digital embroidery, it is resistant and it takes a long time on clothes. This technique,

A technology appreciated by the community

At the consumer level, digital embroidery is well appreciated. Everyone who comes to us is satisfied and comes back again; otherwise if it didn’t work, the customer wouldn’t come back; only, we are a bit expensive compared to the other technique (screen printing and painting) but it’s not really expensive compared to what we do. Quality makes the difference. Our service is not as expensive; at the time, you had to leave the country for this digital service (Kampala, Kenya, Dar es salam, even in Europe). No more going abroad for this job. Digital embroidery is not yet popular in Bukavu, not everyone does it or has it done. We are alone and the customers all come to us, adds Saiga.

Our customers are numerous, it is in particular the scouts of Bukavu and the DRC in general, it is with them that we had started embroidery among the scouts and I learned that thanks to scouting, I went to Belgium , it was thanks to scouting and they are my first consumers. Among my clients, we also find the police officers who have become our second clients; agents of the micro-finance company of Cahi (Bukavu). Everything that we find as visibility for this microfinance company, we do it. Among our clients, we can cite individuals, hospitals, NGOs, the list is not exhaustive… It is thanks to them that we emerged.

Luc’s career path

Today, I am 38 years old, I started scouting at the age of 14. Around 7 years old, I had started to do embroidery in a manual way; everything we’re doing right now is with digital. Thanks to that, I found a partnership with Belgian scouting which appreciated my products (We produce t-shirts in Bukavu to sell them in Belgium); that’s how I went to do embroidery in Belgium. After mastering this technology, I use computers to produce everything I do.

Luc, despite his youth, no longer wants to ask for a job. He learned to take care of himself; he lives decently with his family; his children study thanks to his know-how. Today, he trains young people for free. He supervises two young people in his workshop. The first two who have been trained are already in professional life.