In 2005, Upendo Means Love began as a sewing school for women in Stone Town, Zanzibar. The founder, Dorthe Davidsen Langas had the idea to use sewing as a way to empower women, enabling them to create an income for their households and to bring together women of different faiths.
In 2007, Upendo Means Love opened the Workshop and Shop in order for the graduates of Upendo to be able to start making an income. In a unique way, Upendo Means Love combines the beautiful fabrics of Tanzania with Scandinavian and European designs. Not only do the 20 women employed at Upendo Means Love earn a living from that, but the message of empowered women of different faiths working together is also spread around the world.
In 2010, a process of consolidating the organizational and administrational set up of Upendo Means Love began, which helped to redefine the mission and values below. In 2014, Upendo Means Love is consolidated as a social enterprise still with sewing education and interfaith cooperation as the social aspects and the workshop and shop as the income generating unit, pushing the organization towards financial sustainability.
» Eastern & Coastal Diocese of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Tanzania
» Norwegian Church Aid
» The Royal Norwegian Embassy in Tanzania
» The Royal Danish Embassy in Tanzania
Every year about 80 students go through a course at Upendo. When the school opens in January, the entire first floor is full of colorful women of all ages finding space at one of the cutting tables. The school offers classes with VETA certified exams for level 1, 2 and 3. Besides that, Upendo Means Love offers three very popular embroidery classes pr. Year.
The school is not only about sewing; it is also about gaining skills for life. Every year, the students have seminars on topics like HIV & Aids, entrepreneurship, interfaith dialogue, family planning etc. All students are also invited to join a Village Community Banking (VICOBA) group, which helps the women to take up small loans in order to invest – for instance in a sewing machine.
The school fees of Upendo are intentionally very low, so it is possible to get a sewing education, even for financially challenged women. We also try to make sure that the classes are a mix of Muslim and Christian women so they get a chance to build relationships during class.
Every morning at 8 am 12 seamstresses go to work at Upendo. During the day, it is usual to hear loud laughter and conversations elsewhere in the building, all being produced in the workshop together with the Upendo collection. Some of the women have worked together since 2007, when the workshop opened, so this is where the deeper relationships are being built. One of the experienced seamstresses recalled how difficult it was in the beginning, when they were afraid to eat each other’s food. Today they share in the celebrations of each other and eat lunch together every day.
The employed women at Upendo have their own Village Community Banking (VICOBA) group. Over the years, many of the women have started their own small businesses based on a loan from this savings and loan group.
The women use local materials for the Upendo collection – that is Kikoi, which is a hand-woven material made from cotton and the famous Kanga, with Swahili proverbs printed on the side. These materials are colorful, comfortable and contextual.
Every day except Sundays, the shop opens from 9am-5pm. This is where you will find all the Upendo products displayed.
Whenever you buy a piece of Upendo clothing, or an accessory, you support the sewing school and the interfaith empowering work of the organization. The organization is non-profit, so all income is reinvested in the organization for the benefit of more women and their families.
We have a large collection of kids and women’s wear, and a smaller collection of men´s wear and accessories.
Upendo is a non-profit, faithbased organization whose mission is to empower women in Zanzibar to fight poverty and to become role models within their families and communities.
Upendo shall provide high quality sewing and life skills education for women living in Zanzibar.
Upendo welcomes women of all faiths to study and work together to promote peace and understanding between people of different religions.
»Upendo« means love and Love is the core value, which the foundation of Upendo builds it work upon.
Upendo is committed to provide a woman with sewing and life skills education, in an environment where she can develop confidence in her capacity and possibilities.
That she may have hope for the future and the ability to make change and contribute to the community.
Upendo is committed to fight poverty through education, entrepreneurship and employment. And in this way empower women to understand financial matters, and see the opportunities to make businesses that can improve life conditions for their families and the whole community.
Upendo is committed to nurture an environment where women of different faiths and cultural backgrounds can study and work together, to promote respect, peace and understanding, and to address common challenges.
Transparency and Accountability
Upendo is committed to encourage the woman of Upendo to share her ideas, and participate in the decision-making processes. Trust is being built by creating a working environment with open, systematic and fair management and administrative procedures.
Upendo is committed to create a study and workplace where women are encouraged to trust and be open to one another, and where each one is motivated to do her best for the benefit of all. Upendo strives to be a community, where people discover the power of unity. Upendo also cooperates with both local and international stakeholders to increase mutual learning and inspiration
Upendo is committed to provide high quality education and to design and sew beautiful clothes attracting people both locally and internationally. By focusing on high quality in all aspects of Upendo we believe that the woman will be proud of what she does, and that her skills to produce high quality will give her increased work opportunities.
Upendo has a partnership with two design schools in Denmark. Haandarbejdets Fremme in Copenhagen and Teko Centret in Herning. Both schools allow design students to come to Upendo for internship. If you are a student in design and if you are interested in spending a couple of months at Upendo, working with local women and local materials, please contact the manager of Upendo.get in contact
If you would like to spend some time at Upendo as a volunteer, we always need new ideas for our clothing collection. At the school, there is a need for inspiring new teaching methods and in the shop, we can use new ideas for marketing and sales. Please contact the manager of Upendo if you are interested.get in contact
If you would like to make a donation towards Upendo Means Love, please feel free to do so either by using the donation box placed in the shop or by making a deposit to the following USD account:
003 9001063 ZNZ WOMENS INTERFAITH SERVICE
Barclays Bank – Zanzibar Branch
Ground Floor ZSTC Building, G Area
Malawi Road, Stonetown
P.O. Box 4801, Zanzibar, Tanzania
Swift code: BARCTZTZ
If you are interested in selling the Upendo clothes and establishing a partnership with Upendo, please contact the manager.get in contact
We are located in the heart of Stone Town in Kiponda, just across the street from Zanzibar Coffee House.
Phone: +255 (0) 655 744 086
Address: UPENDO MEANS LOVE
P.O.Box 4086, Stone Town, Zanzibar, Tanzania
Manager: Alessia Lombardo
get in contact