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Stitching into a better future

Shaswata Kundu Chaudhuri |

Shree Stree Shakti Yojna, under the aegis of a corporate social responsibility initiative by Shree Cement Ltd, is changing the livelihood of rural women in the backward regions of Beawar in Rajasthan.

The SSSY centre imparts basic and advanced training courses of four months each, where they are taught to use electric sewing machines to make designer bags, dresses and apparels.

The company also provide footoperated electric sewing machines and fashion designer machines, raw material, trainers, designing concepts, soft skill development and other facilities free of cost.

From being non entities, those women can now take care of themselves and their families. P N Chhangani, president (Works) of Shree Cement Ltd shared that the module has been really successful and benefited many from the surrounding villages. Excerpts from an interview:

Q. Are there any measures being taken to open a technical institute which will impart other skills to the beneficiaries beyond stitching and making bags and clothes?

We are imparting various skill training such as food processing, beauty parlour, agriculture, summer camps, etc. In addition, we have opened two IT centers in the villages, where we impart training spread over three months to one batch.

A total of three batches are trained in each center in a year and strength of each batch is approximately 20. Thus combined together, we train 120 students in one year. At the end of the course, the results are really encouraging.

Q. Is there a focus on making products that the backward villagers themselves can use?

Yes. In addition to sewing training, food processing is another aspect which is of great utility to the village women. Not only does it meet their household requirement, but some of them have started supplying/taking orders from the market.

Q. In terms of self reliance, what else do you plan to bring forth that will help the economic upliftment of these regions?

The scope of our CSR activities is very wide. This include students, farmers, women, children, poor families, health, infra development, skill training, education, safe drinking water, tree plantation, etc.

Q.What are your thoughts on providing adult education in the regions you operate in?

We are already doing this in our Anganwadi centres and it is very useful. We have renovated these centers into attractive ones. In addition, we are running “Shree Ki Pathshala” where we impart tuition to the students appearing for board exams, who otherwise cannot afford the same. By this effort, there was a good improvement in board results in the year 2016- 17 and we hope to do even better in the coming years.

Q. Have you considered using local resources to fuel a similar initiative?

Certainly! We do make use of various government sponsored schemes and add our contributions to them, making it more attractive and affordable. We interact with resources deployed by the government and they are more than happy to participate, as it facilitates their functioning and output. For example, we add our subsidy on government subsidy, thus making the scheme striking and viable.

Q. Why is this initiative only focused on helping women?

Not at all! This is just one of our activities. The scopes of our CSR activities are very wide and cover different spectrums of the population.