Indian handicrafts are magic and generate income

by Grassroots Empowerment Initiative
Indian handicrafts are magic and generate income
Indian handicrafts are magic and generate income
Indian handicrafts are magic and generate income
Indian handicrafts are magic and generate income
Indian handicrafts are magic and generate income
Indian handicrafts are magic and generate income
Indian handicrafts are magic and generate income
Indian handicrafts are magic and generate income
Indian handicrafts are magic and generate income
Indian handicrafts are magic and generate income
Indian handicrafts are magic and generate income
Indian handicrafts are magic and generate income
Indian handicrafts are magic and generate income
Indian handicrafts are magic and generate income
Indian handicrafts are magic and generate income
Indian handicrafts are magic and generate income
Indian handicrafts are magic and generate income
Indian handicrafts are magic and generate income

In September we were able to fund the appointment of  a marketing manager to boost sales of the handicrafts made by village women in our grassroots handicrafts production project in remote villages in Rajasthan.  So far she has generated more on line sales outlets for the women's products in India as well as arranging a number of bulk 'job lot' sales of shoe bags and laundry bags to a number of commercial companies.  All of this has helped to generate more income for the women (over 100 of them) who work in handicrafts production centres making a range of textile handicrafts - bags, pouches, table cloths and table mats, cushion covers,  using local fabrics that are supplied for free as offcuts from local textile producing companies. 

Under the GEN (Grassroots Empowerment Initiative) and End Poverty (EP) project the women are now learning a new set of income generating skills - production of a range of products made from recycled paper.  This initiative is being run in collaboration with a company that already has sales outlets for its recycled paper products but needed more women as producers.  Our women have been getting the necessary training, but it is early days yet in this new venture.

Other women trained under this project (an additional 100 or so) are working independently in their villages.  This means they need their own sewing machines which is feasible because they are members of one of the 26 women's  self help groups we have helped to get started which provide facilities for loans based on a collective approach to saving in each group.  Sheila did this and is now able to sell her sewing services to others in her village.  This kind of individual entrepreneurial activity we want to encourage, so we hope that Sheila's experience will encourage other members of our self help groups to do the same.  

In UK we do our bit towards generation of income for the women in this project by selling handicrafts they make in this project at Christmas market stalls - see picture.  (I cannot get this to upload!)

 See www.gen-initiative.org  and  www.endpoverty.org.in

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The GEN (grassroots Empowerment Project) and its Indian NGO partner work to alleviate poverty in 60 villages in Rajasthan.  Their handicrafts project has reached over 200 women to date.  100 of them now work through craft production centres to produce handicrafts for sale through commercial channels.  Most of the rest work independently making clothes and other items for families in their village as a source of income.  

Pepita (see her picture in attachments) is one of the beneficiaries of the GEN / End Poverty handicrafts production project.  It was hard for her to get started, but here is what she told me:

'I heard about your handicrafts project from another women who was already part of your project, and knew I wanted to be part of it.  I asked the leader of a nearby handicrafts centre to come to my house so I could find out more, but my husband who had been drinking heavily tried to stop her coming in!  He also said I had too much to do with looking after our 4 children, housework and farming activities.   This made me very angry!  I made sure she was able to join me for a first discusson.  I also began to get up very early to complete all my responsibilities, and allow time to do some handicrafts work myself.  It took several months before I was able to get a small group of women to join me regularly at the house where we started working together making place mats, various kinds of bags, tassles, pouches and other items.  This was only possible with the help of your project manager.  Now, 3 years later I have a well equipped centre in my house, with sewing machines for 8 women.  We are all earning from the sale of our products.  Because I am earning my husband, my mother in law, and others in the household who tried to stop me at the start have accepted what I am doing through my handicrafts centre, and the centre occupies 1 room in the household compound.'    

Pepita went on to say that her dream is that her handicrafts centre becomes a small industry engaging 10 women which provides regular income for all who work with her, with her as the head of the organisation.  

This is just one example of what has already been done to improve the lives women in remote villages in the Tijara Block in Rajasthan.  We want to expand our work so we reach more women like Pepita who can make a big difference to the situation of village women who we know are keen to join us.  

A new catalogue of Tijara Craft handicrafts made under the project has just been produced and can be obtained from rachna@endpovertyindia.org or shweta@endpovertyindia.org.  Please contact them if you would like to receive a copy.


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Here are the stories of 2 women beneficiaries of our income generating handicrafts project in a remote part of rural Rajasthan.  They are just 2 out of 80 village women who are the target group for this project - a target we hope to increase as the project expands and moves to self sufficiency over the next 3 years:

 Bimal (see picture in attachment) joined the scheme in 2014 with no sewing skills at all, and was very nervous.  Her husband was also discouraging.  He did not want her to work but she persisted, and joined one of our centres,  against his opposition.  She found the handicrafts work very difficult at the start because she was shy about her lack of skills.  She had to work hard to catch up.   Now she can make bags, decorative panels, pouches and lots more, as required.  With support she feels that she can turn her hand to making anything required through the project.  More importantly she is bringing some income into her household. This has made all the difference to her husband’s attitude.  She is now a valued and respected family member because she makes a useful input to the family budget. 

In 2016 Bimal also joined one of our self help groups and pays R100 a month to the groups collective savings.  This means she can borrow larger sums to meet family needs as required against those collective savings.  She is able to repay this on a regular basis using some of her handicrafts income.  Long term she says she knows the handicrafts project is the way forward for her, and wants more work as it becomes available under our plans for 2018-20 (see below)

-  Pepita (see picture in attachment ) is one of the most successful workers in our village based handicrafts project.  But it was hard for her to get started.  Here is how she described her experience.   

'I heard about your handicrafts project from another women who was already involved, and knew I wanted to be part of it.  I asked the leader of a nearby handicrafts centre to come to my house so I could find out more, but my husband who had been drinking heavily tried to stop her coming in!  He also said I had too much to do with looking after our 4 children, housework and farming activities.   This made me very angry!  I made sure she was able to join me for a first discusson.  I also began to get up very early to complete all my household and family responsibilities, and allow time to do some handicrafts work myself.  It took several months before I was able to get a small group of women to join me regularly at my home.  We started working together making place mats, various kinds of bags, tassles, pouches and other items under the guidance of the project manager.  This was only possible with the help of this project.  Now, 3 years later I have a well equipped centre in my house, with table top sewing machines for 8 women.  We are all earning from the sale of our products.  Because I am earning my husband, my mother in law, and others in the household have accepted what I am doing through my handicrafts centre, and the centre occupies 1 room in the household compound.'    

Pepita went on to say that her dream is that her handicrafts centre becomes an independent small industry engaging 10 women which provides regular income for all who work with her, with her as the head of the organisation.  This matches the GEN / End Poverty goal of moving towards a more independent and self sustainable model for developing handicrafts work to bring income to village women in our area of operation - the Tijara Block in Alwar District in Rajasthan.

New developments

In early June, with GlobalGiving support, GEN and its Indian partner End Poverty recruited a marketing  manager, Shweta Tripati (see picture in attachment), to join the project team initially for 6 months, but hopefully for longer in the expectation of her success with income generation from sales of the womens products.  Her role is to boost market linkages  and to increase the support given to current and new handicrafts workers by strengthening production, quality and design to more closely match market requirements.  Underpinning this more focused and intensive approach to marketing a parallel plan is underway to ensure that by the end of 2018 we have 10 fully equipped craft centres in place at village level, each engaging 8-10 handicrafts workers who can meet a growing demand for saleable products that will increase project income and hence the income of participating women.  Each centre led will be by an experienced and well trained 'sahayika' or centre manager, like Pepita,  who is trained and supported to back up Shweta's marketing activities.  So far our plans for a more independent handicrafts business in the future are progressing well, but additional financial support and advice  would help to speed things up! 


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I have just met Pepita, now one of the most successful workers in the village based handicrafts project run by GEN and End Poverty in 60 villages in the Tijara Block in Rajasthan,India .  But it was hard for her to get started.  Here is what she told me. 

'I heard about your handicrafts project from another women who was already part of your project, and knew I wanted to be part of it.  I asked the leader of a nearby handicrafts centre to come to my house so I could find out more, but my husband who had been drinking heavily tried to stop her coming in!  He also said I had too much to do with looking after our 4 children, housework and farming activities.   This made me very angry!  I made sure she was able to join me for a first discusson.  I also began to get up very early to complete all my responsibilities, and allow time to do some handicrafts work myself.  It took several months before I was able to get a small group of women to join me regularly at the house where we started working together making place mats, various kinds of bags, tassles, pouches and other items.  This was only possible with the help of your project manager.  Now, 3 years later I have a well equipped centre in my house, with sewing machines for 8 women.  We are all earning from the sale of our products.  Because I am earning my husband, my mother in law, and others in the household who tried to stop me at the start have accepted what I am doing through my handicrafts centre, and the centre occupies 1 room in the household compound.'    

Pepita went on to say that her dream is that her handicrafts centre becomes a small industry engaging 10 women which provides regular income for all who work with her, with her as the head of the organisation.  

This is just one example of what has already been done to improve the lives women in remote villages in the Tijara Block in Rajasthan.  We want to expand our work so we reach more women like Pepita who can make a big difference to the situation of village women who we know are keen to join us.  

Many thanks for all the contributions so far.  These will help us to just that over the next year or so.  

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Organization Information

Grassroots Empowerment Initiative

Location: London - United Kingdom
Website:
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Sue Burke
Project Leader:
Sue Burke
London, United Kingdom

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Combined with other sources of funding, this project raised enough money to fund the outlined activities and is no longer accepting donations.
   

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