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Improving the hiring potential of residents in Saint-Denis in France

Developing a dressmaking program to get the unemployed on their feet

The association Femmes A.C.T.I.V.E.S. supports the long-term unemployed with concrete aid and training initiatives. The association has plans to expand its dressmaking program, created in 2005. To support them in this endeavor, the Air Liquide Foundation is helping them set up a low-price sewing shop.

Femmes A.C.T.I.V.E.S.

been excluded from traditional avenues of education and employment. Since 1994, Femmes A.C.T.I.V.E.S has been providing assistance to these people, particularly the women who live in the district. In fact, around 80% of its beneficiaries are women, many of them foreigners, for whom the language barrier is a powerful obstacle to social integration.

The association has two main initiatives:

  • Social and occupational services
  • Occupational training, with a work program that focuses on dressmaking, clothes washing, and ironing

Femmes A.C.T.I.V.E.S.

Gaining experience through learning and sharing

Using special temporary contracts for the long-term unemployed (known as CDDIs), which can last anywhere from 18 to 24 months, the work program trains 15 people simultaneously, with a total of 25 people trained each year. As part of the program, participants are turned into dressmakers or ironers. In addition to gaining professional skills, the employees get to participate in rewarding activities where they have the chance to learn from their peers. At the end of the program, around seven in 10 people find stable employment.

15 CDDI employees outcomes

80 percentage of female trainees

70 percentage of positive

A low-price sewing shop

Between 2016 and 2017, Femmes A.C.T.I.V.E.S. set up a retail space to sell clothing and bags to residents of the district and disadvantaged people from other associations. With this project, the association realized that there was genuine demand for a small sewing shop geared toward bargain customers. 

The shop is used to sell fabric coupons and low-cost sewing items, allowing its employees to develop their sales techniques and service skills. It also serves as a venue for workshops, where attendees can learn from each other’s expertise.

How is the Air Liquide Foundation involved?

The Air Liquide Foundation is financing the purchase of professional equipment (a cloth cutting/heat gluing machine and a press table) to help with fabric cutting. The Foundation is also helping to put together the sewing shop.