Come spend a day with the talented embroidery artisans of IBABA Rwanda. On this visit, Xaverine, the president of the embroiderers, will show you first hand how the women in the cooperative embroider stunning fashion collections, home decoration, and accessories, designed by French designer, Véronique. You'll also get to watch as one of the artisans creates a personalized pouch for you to take home.
IBABA Rwanda is one of the only Rwandan brands to combine traditional Rwandan art and a modern flair. The production is supported by an exceptional artisanal know-how initiated in Rwanda in the 1970s. Each IBABA Rwanda article is unique and often requires several days of work by one of the 40 exceptionally-skilled embroiderers. IBABA Rwanda offers high-end handcrafted articles produced with ethical and fair trade policies.
"We sit as a group embroidering with no problems. It has brought us a better life and a better future. It is the hope that we have everyday."
In the 1970s, a group of Belgian nuns came to Rutongo and started an embroidery training center and workshop to help young women from the village. Women were trained, then offered jobs in the workshop. They earned a salary and were able to provide for their families. The initiative was an important social enterprise and for many years represented a great source of pride for local young women.
The embroiderers developed an unparalleled know-how and their work won praise beyond Rwanda’s borders. The best materials (Belgian linen and French DMC threads) were imported from Europe so that the finest quality of embroidery would be guaranteed. At its best, the workshop employed more than 300 embroiderers.
In 1994, the work was abruptly halted, ending the enterprise that supported the Rutongo community for so many years. The Belgian nuns moved back to Belgium and the workshop disappeared.
Xaverine is the president of the women's cooperative. She was one of the original embroiderers of the group, trained by Belgian nuns in the 1970s.