In a small village near Mirzapur, mother-of-three Nirmala has sent all her three daughters to school, but not everyone in her village has that luxury. After becoming a part of Rangsutra, a craft company that focuses on community building, Nirmala has done the unachievable for many village women.
Benefits both businesses and impoverished women
The Swedish-founded, Netherlands-based home and furniture chain store IKEA has been collaborating with various social entrepreneurial organisations all over the world. Vaishali Mishra, Global Leader, Social Entrepreneur Initiatives, IKEA, said, “The social entrepreneurs IKEA works with gaining access to a global marketplace, giving them a strong foundation for self-sufficiency and independence. The social entrepreneurs gain access to a global marketplace and are able to provide the artisans with a job on their own terms, helping them stay in their village and at the same time provide for their families.” A new method to make business across the globe, this initiative has become a sort of a win-win situation, benefitting both the organisations as well as women in need. With the hope of giving their own daughters the opportunities they never had, women like 32-year-old Nirmala Maurya can now dare to dream a different life for herself and her daughters.
Pressing on without any support
Nirmala was requested to join Rangsutra in 2010 and since then has been working with the organisation without the support of her family and in-laws. Sadly, this is the story of many women who are working for the craft company. Nirmala said, “It was a huge battle against the taboo. For the one-week training programme that Rangsutra held in Jaunpur, I wasn’t given permission by my parents-in-law…I had to go to my mother’s house in Benaras where I left my kids and went on to get trained.” Though her family is slowly coming around, they still joke about her occupation, but Nirmala loves what she does and it is all that matters to her. Today, she is proud to say that her daughters are in school and she has begun to save money to build her own home, to move out of their mud house.
The change among the women has been drastic as Mishra explains, “I remember the same women were so shy and withdrawn initially. They would not come out in the open without their ghunghats (veils) on. Today, you see them confidently taking up the job, feeling responsible and confident.” And this is exactly what IKEA aims to achieve within every underprivileged woman.
Image credit: womenonwings.com