India Visit: Great Training Ahead!
Prosperity Rings visited its two current partners, SRIA and SHWET and former partner ANISHA in February 2014 for its annual monitoring visit. The primary focus of the visit with staff and borrowers was to provide opportunities for rural women to learn new products and services and establish their enterprises on these more sustainable and diverse businesses. While riding from one group to another we came up with a list of 58 kinds of enterprises the borrowers could launch with minimal preparation.
We started the process by training large groups of borrowers to produce non-disposable sanitary napkins (see article Days for Girls). Our partners gathered large and small groups to respond to our questions and participate in meaningful discussions on feminine hygiene and how to stand up for their rights in order to command respect for themselves as women. After hearing our list of 58 alternative enterprises, they were agog with excitement and readiness to get involved in some of the entrepreneurial options. We worked with almost all our current borrowers. For example, SHWET arranged for us to interact with 97 borrowers from 11 self-help groups.
It was gratifying that between our partners and Rotary contacts, we rounded up five good sources of possible trainings for our ladies to expand their horizons:
- the director and head of the Department of Women’s Studies at Bharathidasan University;
- the Managing Trustee of Poornodhaya Trust, a training center for differently abled people, but also for others;
- a specialist with a background from Indian Council of Agricultural Research;
- a trainer with a background from Entrepreneurship Development Institute;
- the Women Enterprise Association of Tamil Nadu (WEAT);
We were thrilled that between these sources the borrowers can be trained in: computer education; sewing machine mechanics; phenoil making; plastic wire bags and handmade flower production; tailoring & embroidery; production of covered gems; incense production; vermicompost production; home vegetable gardening; banana fiber products; bee keeping; sericulture (silk worm farming); fodder sales; candle making; fashion Jewelry (bangles; necklace, chain); beading jewelry; disposable sanitary napkins; Magic Loom rubber jewelry.
Prosperity Rings has learned over its 13 years of micro credit lending, first, that vulnerable Indian women are very hard working and most are ardently, fervently eager to learn new enterprises! Many said they are also dying to learn English, so we were able to obtain a commitment from our partners to buy English lesson primers and assist self-learning. Secondly, we know that, in order to succeed in the long run, the borrowers need to develop enterprises based on a sustainable, marketable product or service, so that they can enter the mainstream economy. Prosperity Rings and our partners are definitely on the right track after this visit.