Joseph is our Afriek hero. Since the end of 2015 he is the production manager of our atelier in Rwanda. We got to know each other through a mutual friend who was filming a documentary in Kigali. Since we started our collaboration, we’ve never stopped learning from one another.
Joseph enables us to coordinate the production when we are in Amsterdam, acting as a bridge between the Netherlands and Rwanda. He manages the orders and is in charge of quality control. All whilst keeping our atelier a well organized and dynamic workplace for our tailors. More importantly: he shows us the cultural dynamics we are missing out on as foreigners. His biggest concern: the happiness and wellbeing of our tailors.
Joseph: “Afriek is the first place I started to work with fashion. I met my friend Emma when she was filming a documentary in Kigali. She introduced me to the brand, and since then I manage the production of Afriek in Kigali. I have seen the company grow a lot. When we started, I worked 6 hours per week, next to my night shifts in the hotel. Since 6 months ago I started working for Afriek fulltime.
“What I like most about working as a production manager is that I learn a lot. It has thought me to become business-minded and to focus on details, something I didn’t learn during my biology bachelor. When you’re working with people from other countries you exchange a lot of knowledge, there is a lot you can learn from each other. With Kars and Sivan hailing from the Netherlands, but also our diverse team of tailors: there is someone from Congo, Guinee….. There are many cultural differences that come up when you work together, it’s good to have an open work environment where everyone is accepted and feels free to express him or herself.
“What I like most is the way we talk. At Afriek we work in democracy and transparency. We have regular meetings to discuss what is good, what could be done better and how we can improve. This encourages everyone to openly discuss about work, the tailors can come with new ideas to solve a problem they face. When there is a problem with the patterns, they take responsibility to come up with a solution. Recently we changed the placement of the buttons on the shirt because one tailor suggested it could look better. We all agreed and decided to change the pattern.“