2/3 of the Indian population is rural. Over the years, with changes in the weather patterns that have led to unreliable farming cycles and lack of other employment opportunities, there has been a large migration towards cities. However, most of rural migrants coming to the cities end up in slums. The high cost of living in urban areas and the lack of skills to search for well paying jobs poses challenges for these migrants. It especially affects women migrants who are often illiterate and lack confidence in searching for jobs to make a living.
Matr Boomie has always focused on finding opportunities for women at risk. In order to create employment opportunities for these women migrants, we decided to train them in making products with readily available raw materials like saris and newspapers. We reached out to women living in slums and invited them to visit our offices so we could provide them with training. A lot of them were excited and come and train, however they ended up not coming to our offices. We later learned that the reason for this was due to their lack of confidence in us as well as their own ability to make a living. We then started conducting training workshops in their homes and trained a few women at a time. The training took about 6 months and included tools and equipment along with encouragement for these women. At the end of this training, they were able to make commercial quality products. Once they reached that stage and were able to start making a living creating these products, something unexpected happened. The confidence in these women increased tremendously. They were no longer hesitant to travel to our offices to learn about new products and how to create them. They wanted to work more and were open to new creations and began encouraging other women in their community to get engaged. Our goal was to find opportunities for these women to make a living, but in addition they ended up finding their voice.
For people living in poverty, there is nothing more empowering than making a living. Trade that is done responsibly and inclusively has the power to create employment and opportunities for millions of people at risk around the globe.
Matr Boomie's India team, SETU, has now opened a permanent women's training center as a place for women at risk to come and learn how to create products and make a living. This center also becomes a safe house for women who unfortunately often face abusive situations at home. It is a joyful place where women can bring their children and spend time focusing on work along with building friendships with other women.
The products these women make are not only giving joy to people using them, but also to the hands that create them.