“Before this project, I was working as a maid (domestic helper). In 2006, I joined Visalakshi Empowerment program. Then I was selected for training in jute bag tailoring at the Rural Development Project (RDP) at the Art of Living Ashram. Since then, I have tailored jute bags that have been sold in many exhibitions as well as been ordered by clients in the USA. I now teach tailoring skills to other women.
Ever since I learned tailoring, I have been able to increase my income substantially while also saving money for our children’s future. I have life insurance benefits. Through this empowerment program my daughter has also benefited by getting financial assistance for her education.”
– Ponmayi, an enthusiastic leader of one of our Self Help Groups
From a humble group of four women deciding to create a Self Help Group (SHG) to change their individual circumstances, today we have reached out to over 400 women via this program. The cooperative society that was setup not only provides vocational training, employment opportunities and loans to its members but it also facilitates the education of their children.
Through our efforts we have been able to create leaders out of ordinary women who otherwise would have been restricted doing menial jobs. As these women grow economically, they become more independent and their children get an array of opportunities that may not have been possible otherwise.
How does the journey look so far?
Reached out to
around 400 underprivileged women in Banashankari, (Bangalore, Karnataka), Papanasam (Tamil Nadu) and Mohi (Satara, Maharashtra)
The team makes
around 2,500 bags along with dolls, accessories, dress materials in a year
to roll around 60 lakh agarbhathis a year and to make around 2,500 chapathis a day
How did we work?
The program had very humble beginnings. Starting with a self help group of just four women, it has flourished into a 400 member cooperative. The cooperative provides vocational training, loans and financial assistance to its members all of whom come from economically weak background.
What did we learn?
The cooperative model by creating self-help groups can work really well in some places when there are micro-financing facilities and access to markets to sell finished products.
How can you contribute?
We would like to expand this program to reach out to more women. This long term program requires the support of private and government bodies to continue this change.