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Business is growing for Somali refugee women’s project supported by SDOP

Ohio-based group sees brighter future

by Rick Jones | Presbyterian News Service

Participants in the Sewing Cooperative at Capital Park, showcase their products. (Photo courtesy of Capital Park)

Participants in the Sewing Cooperative at Capital Park, showcase their products. (Photo courtesy of Capital Park)

LOUISVILLE – Business is looking good for a group of Somali refugee women seeking to support their families in Columbus, Ohio. The group is part of the Capital Park Women’s Empowerment Project, working to give low income women an opportunity to forge their own path and market their business.

“The Sewing Cooperative at Capital Park is moving forward into new territory,” said Beth Stock, the group’s director. “We’ve created some new products and recently took them to a three-day festival in downtown Columbus.”

The Sewing Cooperative has been supported by a number of organizations including the Presbyterian Committee on the Self-Development of People (SDOP). Last year, SDOP provided a $10,000 grant to help the group grow its business.

“Participants are being trained to become master seamstresses with the ability to design, produce and sell designer bags, make clothing repairs and participate in the marketing of these products,” said Rebecca Reyes, SDOP National Committee chair. “The project is allowing the group to build economic independence.”

Because of limited English language skills, group members have only been able to secure low-paying jobs. The grant and other financial support is helping the cooperative “forge its own path.”

“The Community Festival in Columbus was the perfect venue to sell our bags and other items,” said Stock. “We were able to sell 17 shoulder bags, 25 zipper/cell phone purses and 15 baby items. We were able to look at the costs involved in doing this business such as material costs, sales tax, booth fees and more. We are definitely learning more about what it takes to run a business.”

Over the last 46 years, SDOP has supported nearly 6,000 community projects in 67 countries. Working with a national committee as well as 25 presbytery and three synod committees, SDOP works with communities struggling with economic and social justice issues, helping them become self-sustainable. Since its inception, SDOP has awarded more than $100 million in grants.


The work of SDOP is made possible by compassionate and generous members of Presbyterian congregations across the U.S. through their giving to the One Great Hour of Sharing offering.

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