Bring out the women entrepreneurs

In a room full of buyers, Glory and Evangeline try to sell their products. It is not just an additional income opportunity for these rural Indian women but a platform to be recognised for their tailoring skills. In India, IM partner Maximising Employment to Serve the Handicapped (MESH) brings under one platform different producer groups, consisting of underprivileged women and persons with disabilities. Mesh aim is to strengthen and broaden their production skills.

Thirty-four-year-old Glory (in pink saree) smiles with a lot of confidence while narrating the amount of time and skill it took for her to stitch a cushion cover and a toiletry bag. Glory admits that the level of confidence has “gone up” ever since she was elected as the secretary of her producers’ society based in Andhra Pradesh in Southern India. John Priyadarshini Mahila Mandal (JPMM) is a women producers’ society linked to MESH. JPMM works to for skills upgradation, product diversification, value addition, increased awareness of rights and economic self-sufficiency of the right holders – all in accordance with fair trade principles.

“I feel extremely happy to be contributing to my family’s income which I never did before. I am also investing in my children’s education. My self-respect has increased drastically. There are a lot of women like me who want to join the society to feel the economic independence. They are interested to work, earn and sustain,” says Glory.

Having an experience of 20 years and coming from a very small village in Southern India, Glory has climbed the ladder by adapting new skills, and eventually by taking up the leadership role.

“It was a very big step for me. As the society secretary, I learnt skills like unit and money management, source and manage raw material from the market and segregate work among colleagues,” she says.

Glory encourages young women like Evangeline to learn different forms of entrepreneurship skills offered by MESH.

“We learn new things and make new products. We learn a lot from MESH and hope the learning continues,” says Evangeline.