As a young girl, Gisele spent countless hours in her mother’s tailor shop. Eager to imitate her mother’s skill, Gisele would cut up fabrics and design models of her own. With help from her father, Gisele later enrolled in sewing school and eventually opened a tailoring business in Brazzaville, the capital of the Republic of Congo. Despite her beautifully elaborate designs, Gisele’s profits weren’t enough to support her family, and she often had to use her business capital for their expenses, jeopardizing her business and stymying progress.
Seeking to diversify her business, Gisele received and repaid seven loans from HOPE Congo over the course of five years to expand her tailoring business by purchasing fabrics, sewing materials, and an electric sewing machine. Ever the entrepreneur, Gisele also used loans to expand into a new business selling smoked fish; small cakes; and foufou, a cassava-based Congolese dish.
Now, she is able to provide for her family using only the profits of her businesses. Reflecting on the impact of her relationship with HOPE Congo, Gisele says:
HOPE is the one who came to give me wings so that I can fly.
A transformed life
Gisele’s transformation has gone beyond the physical. She shares that her community once saw her as unreliable. Without recognizing the value of her work, Gisele would often miss appointments with her clients, and her delivery times were always delayed. Through participating in Discovery Bible Study, an opt-in Bible study for HOPE clients, Gisele recognized the importance of diligence and integrity in her work. As she has intentionally sought to honor her clients’ time and create quality clothes, she has come to be seen as a trustworthy businesswoman by her community.
Having seen the ways God transformed her own life, Gisele is eager to give back, opening up her home to host a Discovery Bible Study group. Using her sewing skills, Gisele makes bed sheets and wool outfits for babies in Missafou, the village where she was born. As a single mother, Gisele knows the challenges of raising children on her own, and she dreams of opening a sewing school in the village to help unmarried mothers become financially self-sufficient.
Gisele also dreams of growing to become a successful fashion designer and of passing on the same love of sewing that she learned from her mother to her children.
Share Gisele’s story with your loved ones by buying representative items through HOPE’s gift catalog.