In 2011 the Indian Government introduced the National Rural Livelihood Mission. The scheme is focused on promoting self-employment and organisation of people who have received no or little education living in rural areas, where employment opportunities are limited. These training programmes, which are delivered by NGOs, include practical skills training in areas like tailoring and they encourage the formation of self-help groups. The self-helps groups support each other through their shared spirit of community and their shared experiences and challenges.
After the training has been delivered the NGOs move on to another community to deliver the next Livelihoods Programme, leaving those who have received the training with new skills but often without the confident and resources to generate an income from this new skill.
This is where we come in… Secret Projects builds on the Livelihoods Programme by inviting self-help groups onto our Training for Empowerment Programme. We train the women how to make Secret Pillows but we also work with them to explore ways they can create other income-generating opportunities for themselves. Their shared vision is to become financially independent and our goal is to support them on their journey.
Since Secret Projects began we have trained over 500 women, many of whom have completed the programme and set up their own business, or are now delivering training for Secret Projects, quality controlling our products, or sourcing materials locally. We now call the self-help groups 'Maker Networks' and they are located in Andhra Pradesh, Kerala and Tamil Nadu. The women tell us how much they enjoy working with Secret Projects and tell us how their income has made a difference to their lives. The money they earn typically goes towards basic living costs, such as paying for their children to go to school, food and medicine.
We would now like to invite 50 new women in Southern India to join our Training for Empowerment Programme and join our existing Maker Network of around 300 women. To cover the cost of the training programme need to reach our target of selling 150 Secret Pillows and, to help us achieve this target we have just launched our International Women's Day campaign #tellher which encourages everyone to buy a Secret Pillow for a woman in their life who they appreciate. Click here for more details about our campaign.
A few of the women in the Nilgiris, a UNESCO world heritage site in Southern India who we want to invite onto our Training for Empowerment Programme.