BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN – Sustainable fashion brand UPSYKL is working to empower low income families through a skills training programme called ByFEED.

The initiative will focus on training in three categories: sewing, grass-busting and farming, which will be facilitated by UPSYKL and Seni Moda, a recently-opened fashion showroom which showcases Bruneian designers.

ByFEED — which stands for Family, Empowerment and Economic Development — was previously a project under the NGO Projek Bina Ukhwah (PBU), where it was focused on assisting low-income families through micro-grants.

“With UPSYKL, byFEED has turned into a social enterprise where we are working towards empowering underprivileged families and single mothers to become self-sustainable through skills training, entrepreneurship and individual mentorships,” said Nabilah Jeffery, founder of UPSYKL and Seni Moda.

She said 20 percent of sales from Seni Moda designers will be used to fund the byFEED programme.

Nabilah added that they will collaborate with other NGOs who work directly with needy families to identify potential trainees for the programme.

“Once we’ve compiled a list, we will visit their houses, listen to their journeys and propose [they participate in] byFEED,” she said.

“They must be willing to learn, work hard and meet with external trainers… We need to ensure that they will be committed towards [improving their livelihood] as the process will take months.”

Five participants will be selected for each skills category and training and evaluation will take up to a year.

The clothing products manufactured by participants will also be displayed and sold at the Seni Moda showroom at Citis Square.

“Five or so months after they complete their training, we want to launch a simple collection featuring their products to honour their achievements and show them they can become designers too,” Nabilah said.

Once the programme ends, trainees will be encouraged to seek future opportunities independently.

“We will be helping them monitor their sales in the showroom but we also encourage them to sell their products from home, as by that time they will have the infrastructure to do so.”

“They’ll have a basic mobile phone to promote their business through social media, have marketing skills and be able to price their items reasonably.”

Nabilah said she hopes participants will pass on their skills to their children or other family members.

“These are transferable skills that can benefit their families or friends and generate consistent income.”