After a trip to Cameroon, the young entrepreneur Anika Spörri did not want to remain idle. In 2019, she founded the social project “la mariée – your wedding dress for a good cause”. This is a bridal fashion shop in Yaoundé, the capital of Cameroon, where you can buy and rent wedding dresses. The opening of the shop was made possible by donations in kind and money from Switzerland. This made it possible to create valuable jobs and apprenticeships in the city of 2.5 million people.
“La mariée” exclusively trains young people with IDP status. IDP stands for internally displaced person. These are inhabitants who are fleeing from armed conflicts, violence and human rights violations within their own country. The aim of project leader Anika Spörri is to use “la mariée” to counter the misery of the high unemployment and poverty rates. In addition, part of the profit is invested in projects of the “Mission du Plein Evangile au Cameroun”, which provides humanitarian aid to IDPs.
In the following we would like to publish a short report by Anika Spörri that reached us. It is about the first three apprentices who have successfully completed their three-year apprenticeship as tailors.
Independence thanks to BERNINA sewing machines
By: Anika Spörri, Project Manager
The project la mariée aims to support young internally displaced Cameroonian women who cannot afford an apprenticeship or other professional studies. They are trained as seamstresses for three years and, upon completion, receive a small start-up capital and their own sewing machine, which is sponsored by BERNINA.
We recently celebrated our first three apprentices – they all successfully completed their three-years of apprenticeship. The head of our supporting association and the managing director of la mariée Cameroon travelled first to Yaoundé and then to Mbanga. The first graduation party took place with the graduate, Honorine, in Yaoundé.
The team was amazed at Honorine’s talent. She had sewn beautiful dresses especially for the celebration, which she proudly wore. Honorine expressed her gratitude for what she had experienced during her apprenticeship. Her trainer gave a speech. She was an important and professional support for the apprentice. Coming from a poor background herself, she was motivated to help. Honorine’s family and friends were also present. A delicious meal was served. They expressed their gratitude to all the people and godfathers (= sponsors of the apprentices) involved.
For the second farewell party, the team travelled to Mbanga, where they said goodbye to Bibish and Irene. The start of their apprenticeship turned out to be a bit more difficult, as the trainer was reluctant to pass on her knowledge. Therefore, after one year, a new training place was organised for the two women. The new teacher was able to train the apprentices optimally and they were able to learn and benefit a lot during this time. The families of the two women gave our team many delicacies and specialities as an expression of their gratitude.
All three graduates were presented with a diploma, a sewing machine sponsored by BERNINA, and start-up capital. They can now embark on their journey into self-employment with a well-filled rucksack of knowledge and manual skills under their feet.
We would like to thank BERNINA for their generosity.
Dear Anika, we would like to thank you for your personal commitment and dedication.
We at BERNINA are happy when our sewing machines become part of a good cause.
The social project “la mariée” could and can only be realised through a lot of personal effort and supporters. Further supporters are always welcome! You want to help or even have a wedding dress you would like to donate? Then please contact [email protected] directly.
You can find more information about the project here:
A short documentary about the social project was filmed for the TV programme “Fenster zum Sonntag”. It is titled “Creating apprenticeships with wedding dresses” and can be viewed in Swiss German at the following Youtube link: