Training and Skill Development

Training and Skill Development Training has always been an integral part of the Stree Shakti Programme. This year it had a further boost when we opened a new women’s center at Jharipani. Situated at a height of about 1350 metres above sea level on the way to Mussorrie, this village is a holiday resort. While most of the men work as cooks caretakers, electricians and plumbers in the hotels, the women desperately needed some project that would help them earn. With the generous donations received from the Hans Foundation this project was started in September 2014. Poonam Mamgain and Sushma Negi were appointed as their trainers. They followed the training manual prepared by us and the training started in earnest from November 2014. About 30 women joined the programme. We understand the importance of up gradation of the exiting skills of the women. We are extremely grateful to Shri Pramod Athalye,a renowned expert in the field, for introducing the TRAINING WITHIN Industry (TWI) model in our center. This is a systematic method of upgrading the skills of workers aiming at perfect finish with good speed of production. Our trainers are now trying to implement TWI for every new product introduced. 25 new women will be inducted into Purkal Stree Shakti at the beginning of the coming year. For their training Exim Bank has come forward to fund the expenses.

Design development

Appealing new designs and good finish are the USP of our organization. Two new designers Aishwarya Enolla and Aastha Giri become part of the Stree Shakti family this year. They brought in many fresh ideas and new designs and soon our center was abuzz with activity churning out many new product. Table runners, APRONS, Table cloths and summer waist coats were introduced into our range of products. All the order, popular products sported a fresh look with many new designs. Further steps were taken into the garment line. Girl’s dresses were supplied to a buyer form England. The design team experimented with Palazzo pants to be introduced into the market in the coming year. Nisha Thakur joined the team as a design assistant.

Production

To keep production ahead of demand has always been a problem for us. With our numbers swelling to 178, we could meet this challenge with greater confidence. Group Leaders discharged their responsibilities admirably. With their help and guidance, older members brought in much better production and newer women endeavoured to emulate them with eagerness. The completion of the Training manual and the TWI method of training for up gradation of skills demand.

Marketing

All our artisans understand the fact that production is much easier than selling and that sales are most important to keep the pot boiling. We approach marketing with a four pronged strategy through exhibitions, retail through other shops in various cities, e-commerce portals and boutique buyers abroad. We participated in33 exhibitions in various parts of our country. Even though they have become quite expensive as organizers charge big amounts for the stalls, they provide greater visibility for our products which often result in direct orders from new clients. We started supplying to one more big retail shop in Delhi. Three new foreign buyers have started buying our products for their boutiques. Our big thrust this year has been to sell through other e-portals. Two online craft portals have proved to be quite successful.

Measureable Achievements

1- Number of women who benefited from the project in the year 2014-15 178
2- Percentage of women who came to work every day. 90%
3- Number of women who received free training. 60
4- Number of exhibitions participated in for the sale of products in India. 33
5- Number of women who were provided with medical attention. 100
6- Number of women who were provided free transport facility to commute to the working place. 120
7- Number of women who were provided nutritional supplements. 100

Women of Stree Shakti have a lot of fun!

When women are working in a cheerful environment every day they are bound with threads of friendships and comradary. Our center always reverberates with music and laughter. Our endeavour is to keep them smiling always. A sports day to mark International Women’s Day has become a regular feature in our calendar a time for the women to let go and enjoy themselves with total abandon. This year the stars were the members of our Jharipani center. They carried away several prizes and medals.

Welfare, Health and Social Interaction

We organized a one day bus trip for the women in the month of January 2015. Our bus took them to Kunja Puri. Situated in the Himalays surrounded by snow clad mountains, this beautiful village has an old devi temple with spectacular views. None of the women had ever been there. It was a new and exciting experience of them. Our long cherished dream has been to provide a balanced meal to all our women. This was partially realized when we completed the construction of the kitchen for this purpose. We hope to start the midday meal programme early next year. We are looking our donors for financial support for this project. The health issues of the women are promptly attended to with the help of a panel of doctors in the city who treat them for a small or no fee. Their basic gyaenic, ophthalmic and dental problems are taken care of.

Self Help Activities

1-Purkal Stree Shakti Samiti is a non-profit organization. We support 10 Self Group with centralized accounting, purchases, training, design and marketing.
2-With our hand holding for a few years, these SHGs are beginning to function more independently. Group leaders hold regular meetings with their members and the management constantly keeps abreast of production, sales and quality. They are aware of any short coming among their members and try to rectify them.
3-The amounts in the regularly updated saving account of the various SHGs are growing. These are operated and lent to the members helping them with their personal cash needs.

Major Challenges Faced During the Year

At our new outreach CENTER AT Jharipani we faced several challenges. The center is situated in a location where no telephone network functions. If they needed any assistance or raw materials urgently there is no way they can contact us. This problem was somewhat alleviated when we started sending our senior supervisor regularly there. She kept in touch with the trainer by calling her at home every morning and kept abreast of developments at the center. When winters arrived many of the trainees could not take their usual route to the center through jungles as leopards and bears roam there during the cold months. The only other way was to take a bus. As the women could not afford the bus fare, the society offered to pay. This resolved the problems to a great extent. We not only skill the women and support them in their enterprise but also take care of their welfare. One major health issue amongst them is that they are underweight and anaemic. With the result, they fall sick very often and consequently are unable to earn well. We decided that a nutritious and well balanced meal will go a long way to make them healthier. To begin with, we needed funds to construct a kitchen. Then we could think of starting the programme. Some of our supporters abroad came forward ad collected enough money for this purpose. With their munificence we completed the construction. We are no looking for funds to support the midday meals through the year.