SHG weaves its own destiny, one phulkari at a time - Hindustan Times
close_game
close_game

SHG weaves its own destiny, one phulkari at a time

By, Mohali
Mar 08, 2024 09:38 AM IST

It is said when the going gets tough, the tough get going. It was this indomitable will that transformed a struggling Jaswinder Kaur into an inspirational woman, one who has managed not only to haul herself by her own bootstraps, but has also empowered other women around her.

It is said when the going gets tough, the tough get going. It was this indomitable will that transformed a struggling Jaswinder Kaur into an inspirational woman, one who has managed not only to haul herself by her own bootstraps, but has also empowered other women around her.

Their business was further bolstered after they got an opportunity to install stalls at Mohali and Amritsar airports for 15 days last year. The group earned around <span class='webrupee'>₹</span>8 lakh by selling Phulkaris ranging from <span class='webrupee'>₹</span>500 to <span class='webrupee'>₹</span>4,000. (HT Photo)
Their business was further bolstered after they got an opportunity to install stalls at Mohali and Amritsar airports for 15 days last year. The group earned around 8 lakh by selling Phulkaris ranging from 500 to 4,000. (HT Photo)

Back in 2004, Jaswinder Kaur’s husband was a contractual worker with the Punjab Mandi Board, and was bringing home a meagre 800, which was not enough to make ends meet for the family of four. Everybody around them also seemed to be in the same financial dire straits. It was then that 55-year-old Kaur, accompanied by five other women, decided to pool in 100 each to purchase wool, the idea of a possible business already taking shape in their mind. “We knitted an intricately embroidered sweater and gifted it to a teacher at a nearby government school. The teacher then showed the sweater to other staff members, who gave us orders to make more sweaters. That is how we began and the rest is history,” Kaur said.

Unlock exclusive access to the story of India's general elections, only on the HT App. Download Now!

The group continues to make woollen clothes for school teachers and others at nominal prices. It has also received training for knitting, flower-pot making, and other handcrafts from a Ropar-based university under the Mai Bhago Vidya Scheme, which aims to enable such women to start microbusinesses in villages. “After we learned the craft at the university, we received a loan of 16,000 each from the government, which helped us expand our business. Further loans to our Sewa Bhalai Group, under different schemes, including the Aajeevika scheme, further boosted our business, and we continued to make the best possible woollen clothes. This helped over 50 women with us earn their livelihoods and support their families,” Kaur said.

With the help of the local administration, the group earned 2 lakh by selling Phulkaris, jackets, and sweaters at a special Saras exhibition at India Gate in New Delhi, in 2019. However, they had to face yet another hurdle during the Covid pandemic in 2020. “Covid wreaked havoc, and our world turned upside down. We had plenty of stock, including cloth stored at our houses, but it was of no use to us as people were running from pillar to post for survival. All the households in my village were once gain struggling to serve two square meals to their families, “ she said.

Down but not out, the women regrouped and took the initiative to stitch free masks for frontline workers. “We initially distributed around 6,000 free masks after seeing people dying on the roads. After the local administration learned of our initiative, they gave us orders to make masks and paid us 2 for each mask. As all the villagers were without work, everyone, including children, pitched in to complete the bulk mask orders. In fact, the children started calling me ‘Mask Wali Aunty’. We received more orders from the state government and earned 3 lakh for 50,000 masks. Eventually, we sold masks for 27 a piece,” Kaur said.

Their business was further bolstered after they got an opportunity to install stalls at Mohali and Amritsar airports for 15 days last year. The group earned around 8 lakh by selling Phulkaris ranging from 500 to 4,000.

“Now our self-help group, which empowers over 150 women, sells Phulkaris and woollen clothes to buyers in Mumbai, New Delhi, Uttar Pradesh, and Bangalore, and our products are also available on prominent online shopping sites under the name, 84 Phulkari,” says Kaur, who has received multiple awards and honours, including an award by the then state rural development and panchayats minister in 2019 in the best handloom category for her phulkaris.

SHARE THIS ARTICLE ON
Share this article
SHARE
Story Saved
Live Score
OPEN APP
Saved Articles
Following
My Reads
Sign out
New Delhi 0C
Monday, April 15, 2024
Start 14 Days Free Trial Subscribe Now
Follow Us On