If you know me you will know that there are couple of things that excite me more than anything else. A secret thing, and a charity project empowering women.
You will know that I have been involved in many “secret things” over the years, all of them exciting, and that I have been lucky enough to visit some charity projects that are all about empowering women. Remember when I visited a project in Kenya where women were taught to sew at Hovic, and where I found a whole room of sewing machines?
So when I was asked by Secret Projects in India if I wanted to tell you about their products with a similar ethos, I leapt at the chance. First though, a little bit more about them.
We work with charities and NGOs based in India. These organisations link us to women who want to earn a living but who need help finding those opportunities. The organisations meet with the women, often in community centres, and they create an environment in which the women can meet, sew together and support each other. The groups of women who sew are called Maker Networks. Secret Projects then runs a training session using our power mantra to teach the women to make Secret Pillows and other products.
Importantly, we provide a route to market for what they have made – the final link in the chain they previously lacked. They are supported with training & development and the ultimate goal is for the women to become financially independent.
What a beautifully simple idea. These women are taught new skills that allow them to earn their own money, whilst supporting their families. To also come together with other women to chat and help their fellow makers. What is not to love?! It is everything I love about female empowerment.
I was asked if I wanted to receive one of their products, and a couple of weeks later (direct from India) my Secret Project bag arrived in the post. Alongside the bag came a note telling me which Maker Network had made it, and the name of the lady who had sewn it so beautifully.
Our foldable shopping bags are our most recent product and also an important part of our micro-enterprise scheme. The fourth stage of our Training for Empowerment Programme is INDEPENDENCE. We encourage our Makers to organise among themselves and start up small businesses to add a further stream of income in addition to their Secret Projects income. With the recent ban of plastic bags in India, our foldable shopping bag is the perfect product to make and sell locally.
Through a successful Crowdfunding campaign, we have raised enough funds to train four of our Maker Groups to make and sell these bags to local shop keepers. For each 100 bags more we sell, we can train another one of our nine other Maker Groups located throughout the country.
The bag itself folds up into a little pouch that is attached the bag and is small enough to be carried in your pocket when not in use, or put in your handbag ready for its next outing. I went for elephants because they remind me of India (and because they are my youngest daughter’s favourite animal), but there are lots of other choices of fabric to choose from