Friday, 3 August 2012

Empowering women to start micro-enterprises

At our Vocational Skilling PACE (Pratham Arora Center for Education) Centers situated at various tier 2 cities in Maharashtra, such as Nashik, Satara, Chembur and Kolhapur, we impart knowledge to youth in various fields. We educate them in courses such as Foundation Course, Tally, Desktop Publishing, Mobile Repairing, and so on. But the courses designed especially for women include Fashion Designing, Bag-Making, Basic/Advanced Beautician and a few more. These courses help women in rural/semi-urban areas, who usually cannot go far away from their house to gain knowledge, find new ways through which they can run their micro-enterprises from their houses. In the bag making course for example, students are not only taught how to market the bags, but also the process of calculating the manufacturing costs and deciding the selling price, amongst other things. They are even able to design new bags after finishing the course. Thus, these courses establish self-confidence in women who wish to contribute to the society in their own small ways.
One such group of women is the group of Bag-Making students at our Satara center – (Left to Right) Prajakta Lokhande, Rajeshri Powar and Jayeshri Bhingardeve. They liked the training they received from us and believe it will help them in their entrepreneurial pursuits. Let’s get to know each one of them briefly –

Prajakta Lokhande (35) stays in a village about 15 kms from Satara city and was a house wife before enrolling at our PACE centre. She has completed her BA degree in Marathi from Satara University. She completed her Fashion designing course from PACE centre a year ago and joined the course (bag-making) to increase her job opportunities. She currently has 2 bag making orders – one from Kolhe Sir (trainer for the bag-making course) for his shop and another from outside. Kolhe Sir gave her this order so that she could get further experience in bag-making before she started taking full-fledged orders. She was very thankful to the staff at the center and Pratham as a whole to have been given this opportunity.
Rajeshri Powar (19) is planning to appear for her 12th std exams this year. She has completed the Fashion designing course from PACE centre a year ago. Her family is one among the many BPL(Below Poverty Line) families in and around Satara and hence being able to gain the knowledge that will contribute to her family’s income is greatly valued by her.

Jayeshri Bhingardeve’s (35) husband passed away and she is currently the only earning member in the family. She has studied till the 10th Std, but couldn’t study after that due to family problems. She learned about our PACE centre through the aanganwadi teachers in her village. She wanted to do the course in Fashion Designing because her favorite hobby was stitching, and she always wanted to pursue it for a living. The course helped her start her own business due to which she could financially support her family. She now stitches dresses for girls and designs sarees and dresses. She soon realized that she could expand her business by making bags and thereby increase her earnings. But before making that investment, she decided to do a course for bag making and joined the course Pratham offered. After completing the course, she is now confident enough to buy the needed machine and stitch various kinds of bags. She says, “Pursuing this course will surely boost my small business. I will also teach stitching back home to young girls in my neighborhood and spread the knowledge.”

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