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The N'Domo Project


Promotion of Traditional Artistic Techniques


Country: Mali

Project initiated in: 2003

Presented by: the European Commission, through the PAVIA national programme, providing support to cultural sectors in Mali, 9th European Development Fund – EDF

Other partners: DED, Bilateral cooperation from Germany

Project budget: EUR 38 000


// Context

The N’Domo is a training organisation and a Bogolan production workshop – a traditional cotton fabric dyeing technique – founded on the traditional educational and support practices of Bambara ethnic groups. The transfer of expertise and training for professional life are undertaken via the participation of apprentices in work and community life: initiation to arts and crafts techniques and artistic creation go hand in hand with ensuring the responsibility of young people and group solidarity.

The N’Domo solely uses natural and locally-sourced raw materials both for weaving and dyeing.

// Project objectives

  • Promoting artistic and crafts techniques, with a view to economical and local social development.
  • All-round training for young people in traditional techniques and their social integration.

The establishment of a centre for excellence for training, Bogolan production and promoting the development of this sector of activity, notably via improving the quality of products and innovations in terms of its use: decoration, furnishing, clothing manufacture. 

// Action and impact

The N’Domo is today a sustainable organisational structure, which is additionally self-funded and generates sufficient levels of income for educating apprentices, undertaking investments and developing its own business activities. Around thirty or so youngsters from underprivileged backgrounds have undergone training in the centre, in addition to around fifty or so women working for regional cooperatives.

The N’Domo has undergone expansion with five other workshops, including two women’s cooperatives, being created following the same techniques. Approximately 150 people today live in whole or in part from the education provided by the N’Domo.

All objects created are entirely unique and high-quality, meeting the current market requirements. Traditional techniques are fully integrated into contemporary creation. Almost all of the production is intended for export and direct sales to foreign visitors: on average, 4 000 tourists visit the centre each year.

The fabric dyeing and material design sector is based in Ségou, with N’Domo being the registered head office. Weaving workshops and galleries have been established and are able to handle the entire production chain. The N’Domo fits perfectly into the dynamic of tourist and cultural development of the city, creating synergies with other artistic events, notably the Festival on the Niger.

The project ensures consistency in terms of promoting the adults and youngsters who participate in this project, respecting the environment – as all materials used are recycled – and cultural heritage: the centre was constructed in accordance with traditional architectural and material techniques. The aid provided by international organisations has allowed the initiative of its founder, Mr Boubacar Doumbia, to be supported, through a concrete and successful example of local development.

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Katri Maenpaa
16 July 2012

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