Mumbai is a city of contrasts. On the one hand there are skyscrapers, diverse landscapes, speeding traffic and Bollywood films and on the other hand many women and children who go to sleep each night without adequate food, water or shelter.
In a city where according to a 2001 census over half the population lives in the slums, without a skill many people are forced into poverty. The co-op trains the women in sewing and embroidery which provides them with a skill and vital income to help craft a better future.The women from the co-op also fill orders for the domestic market and for their own store in Bandra, a shopping district in Mumbai. The co-op also has a traveling van which sells the products to neighboring communities. Women who enter the training center and are not successful in sewing enter Asli Foods which was set up to provide lunches to the offices surrounding the slum community.
The first introduction to the co-op is through the training center where the women receive instruction in sewing and embroidery. Once they have developed their skills they are moved into a working group. The working groups are autonomously run and coordinated by one woman whom is elected by each group.
The coordinator helps to manage the production schedule and tasks. The work groups are supported by the administrative staff who are hired for their qualifications in skills such as bookkeeping or ordering fabric or marketing.
The women are also supported by a number of social services to help support their work. There is a childcare center for their children to go to while they work and a sponsorship program. There is also a savings and credit organization, training on topics ranging from HIV/AIDS to health clinics. There are also a number of social gatherings and programs.
The women meet twice a year for their general assembly meetings to discuss issues that have been affecting the entire co-op. To read stories profiling the women of the co-op visit our blog where we share their stories!