In May, Industree’s team conducted a scoping visit in several villages across southern Tamil Nadu to get a better understanding of the needs of women artisans there. With the support of Standard Chartered, Industree is also working to assess the financial literacy of these groups in order to provide them with the training and support that they need to grow their enterprises.
In Pudukkotai, we had the honor of meeting Sangeeta, a bright and dynamic 27-year-old doing tailoring work with TREES, a local NGO.
Sangeeta comes from a farming family, and was passionate about the idea of growing the small business of her SHG (Self-Help Group) currently working to stitch and embroider petticoats. Speaking about the changes she would like to see in her community, she stated, “I would like to see more livelihoods around garment making. We struggle with sales, we want more work orders. Our group is currently 20 people; we want it to increase to 500!”
Sangeeta has saved enough to buy herself a scooter– which she uses to commute to work every day — without having to take a loan or pay EMIs.
When we asked her about her ambitions, she confidently replied, “I want to grow. I want to run my own unit, where I would be the supervisor– but of course I would also sew alongside them. I’ll stitch lots!”
Sangeeta’s mother Pragathambal stood close by as we interviewed her daughter. A farmer, she said she was very proud of Sangeeta because of how she is building her savings.
Sangeeta is one of many strong women entrepreneurs trying to find ways to grow their businesses to support themselves and their families. Industree is thrilled to have partnered with Standard Chartered in order to provide these women with the support they need to build their enterprises.
As encouraging as stories like these are, there is still more work to be done. Sangeeta’s story reminded us of how important market access is for these entrepreneurs; after coming as far as creating their own businesses, it is an ongoing struggle to gain more orders. Through Mission Creative Million, Industree is implementing a holistic ecosystem approach to grow livelihoods in creative manufacturing, including capacity-building, market access, design inputs, working capital & infrastructure, and an integrated online platform for artisans like Sangeeta across India.