Artisan: Salma Ben Rajanpur, Gujarat
Supported by STFC’s sewing training
44-year-old Salma Ben comes from the Rajanpur area of Gujarat. “I am an all-rounder,” she says when asked about her skill set that makes her a growing artisan and micro-entrepreneur. “I have my sewing, tailoring business that runs out of my house. I do all kinds of work – cutting, designing new patterns, stitching, tailoring, etc.”
Salma Ben has been associated with STFC for the past three years and it all began with the advent of COVID-19. “Everything was shut. My husband lost his job. We had no income to make ends meet,” says Salma, who is a mother of three daughters and two sons. “All my children have passed class 10th except one son who is still studying. None of them are working and so I was the only provider at that critical time,” she adds.
This kind of crisis was met by Salma after she was determined to find new work. “I was asking everyone if there was a way to find more work. And this is when through a relative, I was introduced to STFC. They instantly became my pillar of support as they pulled me into their tailoring training and the first thing I ever made for them were thousands of masks,” remembers Salma.
At that point when many households were struggling with basic income, STFC began running its training programs and onboarded women who could make masks, cloth bags, basket bags, etc. This training usually consists of about 25 women in each batch and continues for about 3 months totaling nearly 45 hours. “I feel so fortunate that STFC provided me with free training when it was most needed. Earlier, I was doing tailoring work but that didn’t amount to much income majorly because I was dependent on local orders, which would only come at festivals or weddings. Also, the sewing machine was an old one and it was only during the training that I was introduced to a better machine that helped me do all tasks without depending on others. I also learned very critical skills such as cutting, and pattern drawing/designing – which earlier, I had to get done from someone else thereby losing further money,” explains Salma.
The training was crucial in not only their support but also in providing raw materials and equipment at zero cost. “I had earlier taken private classes but since I had to purchase my raw material, I could not continue those classes for long. It became a super expensive affair,” she says. Adding to this, Salma ben was introduced to a pool of determined women just like hers who took charge of their households at such a crucial time. “I was in such awe to see so many neighboring women just like I come out of their houses and learn a skill and become an entrepreneur. My husband still makes very little income- about INR 3000/month and with the support of STFC, catering their orders alone amounts to INR 8000/month. Right now, without my support, we can’t run our family. And without STFC’s support, I couldn’t have reached here”.
Salma ben has not only been influenced by so many other women like her but has also inspired many other women who have joined the training courses and are determined to work towards raising their income levels. “During COVID, I used to work for 10-12 hours straight. But then I fell sick and could not sit for so long. I have trained my daughters and now they help me in finishing orders.”
While Salma ben has still not named her business, she is determined to reach an income of INR10,000-12,000/month by taking more orders through STFC.