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Graduates from the “Women Empowerment Project” (WE Project) Fabric Painting Course are participating in a pilot project called “Making a Living.” The objective of the WE project is to help women play an increasingly important role in the democratic process and their communities. The goal of the “Making a Living Project” is to help the graduates of the WE Project implement their own businesses and making a living through the creation and production of high quality products.
When the Make a Living project started in January, three international orders were received, one for 100 bangles, one for 50 altar cloths and another for 500 bags. This was a perfect opportunity for the participants to use their handicraft skills, sell their products and receive a revenue. All of the participants responded very enthusiastically about the first order, making a commitment to participate fully in 6 meetings of 4 hours each during 3 weeks. They sealed their commitment by signing an agreement that explained the production process, including each one’s roles.
As apart of this project, the women receive continuous vocational training in order to advance their painting and drawing skills, as well as training in how to create a budget, how to write a business agreement, learning about quality standards for products to sell, team work, critical thinking and how to organize a business organization. This was all done through team workshops and practical exercises where examples were given for them to learn from.
The participants were responsible for coming up with the design following certain guidelines from the client, which was to create a design that has a meaning relating to women empowerment and their growth. They dove into an exercise where they connected with what they have been learning and with their own transformation since they came for the first time to the WE Project to take the Fabric Painting Course. After the exercise, they started to draw ideas out of their own contemplations and reflections. The group pointed out one design with a women and a tree, which represents for them growing, good fruits, power and celebration. Plain bamboo bangles were purchased in one of the WE network of industry partners, then they were painted and lacquered. Once the design was ready, it was shown to the customer in America who was very happy with the result.
Once the bangle order was complete, the participants finalized the financial terms for the order and distributed the revenue. They also set-up a fund to purchase raw material for the next order. In the final feedback session, they all shared that they never thought to be able to make such nice bangles, they got very happy and their family were very proud of them!
The second international order was for 50 silk altar cloths to be sent to America. The women brought ideas from their homes as well as potential production techniques such as stenciling, screen printing, etc. In addition, they had to purchase and acquire the raw materials. After several working sessions to decide on a design, samples were made and shown to the client who was very pleased with the group’s altar cloths. The silk altar cloths were produced over a series of a couple of weeks. The practical work was intertwined with theoretical sessions to further improve their team working skills, their quality assurance process, as well as their business knowledge.
Again, once the altar cloths were finished, the participants finalized the financial terms, shared the profit, as well as invested in a fund to have money to buy raw material for the next order.
The participants really appreciated this project. They felt that they learned a lot about quality requirements, the importance of production planning, budgeting, team work and business in general. Having deadlines from the client really helped the participants understand the necessity of having a plan and adhering to it. They are now anxiously awaiting more orders to arrive to continue their path towards a steady income and an increased involvement in society!
The “Making a Living” project started in January of this year and the two orders (Bangles and Altar Cloths) were both finalized in February and shipped to the client. At the present moment, 500 bags are been manufacturing. In total eight production workshops for each order were needed to complete the work. New orders are arriving and the participants will continue to work in the project and hopefully set up their own business.
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