Ganderbal:- Mool Sustainability Research and Training Center concluded a livelihood generation training program for women from difficult familial and economic situations. Organized between February to March 2022 at Sagg Eco Village, Ganderbal, the program trained twenty women including a significant number from Pahari and Pashto speaking families from Waliwar area in the region. Supported by Tata Boeing Aerospace Limited, the program was organized in collaboration with the Department of Social Work, University of Kashmir.
The program trained and supported these women in getting the knowledge, skills, and resources required to start and lead small scale eco business units around dairy farming and handicrafts including sozni works, knitting and stitching & design, and natural soap making. Over a span of ten capacity building workshops, participants were trained in the mindset, personal capacities, and the skillset they would require to transform their business ideas into practical initiatives for their economic well being, and that of their families and communities.
In the beginning, participants took part in a comprehensive assessment to map their interests, ideas, skills, and resources; the process also helped them conceptualize the trades of their choice. The subsequent workshops focused on personal and business development skills needed to plan, organize, initiate, and build their ventures. Participants were trained in basics of business and financial planning, product and brand development, marketing and outreach, sales and accounting, and customer relations. The focal point of each training remained them as individuals and the personal capacities they would require to master these areas, achieve their targets, and keep going.
In the program, participants also interacted with experts from different institutions and resource organizations related to their trade of choice including from Sher-e-Kashmir University for Agricultural Sciences and Technology (SKUAST), Iqbal Memorial Trust and Sakhawat Centre Jammu & Kashmir, and the Directorate of Handlooms and Handicrafts. They also had an opportunity to interact with individuals who have made a mark in such ventures, and learn from their experiences – both of successes and failures in the field. Participants will continue to benefit from the training and mentorship programs run by these and other resources organizations as they induct their own ventures.
The program, inevitably, created a safe space for reflection; it helped build mutual solidarities and some strong friendships for life among these women even though they came from diverse ethnic and linguistic backgrounds.
The learning has culminated into comprehensive business plans which participants developed for their ventures over the course of these trainings.
Reflecting on the experience, one participant says, “I am more confident now and I can look people in the eye. I see myself as a business woman now. I am determined. I think I can start a dairy farm, become independent, and support my family.”
While commenting on the impact, Dr. Javaid Rashid, Assistant Professor, Department of Social Work, University of Kashmir, says, “This program will go a long way in the lives of these twenty women. It has been greatly enriching throughout. We want more collaborations of this sort with Mool.”
In his concluding remarks, Fayaz Ahmad Dar, Founder, Mool Sustainability Research and Training Center, reiterates to the participants, “This is a big step for your life ahead, and the beginning of your relationship with us. Please get in touch and talk to us if you need to discuss anything with respect to your workplans or otherwise, or if you need any further help. We hope you will take advantage of this opportunity.”
The initiative drove programmatic support from The Sagg Eco Village Academy, Ganderbal.
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