Ladies dwelling in slums enter retail enterprise with designer merchandise

Vadodara: Kamla, a mother of seven children, came to city around four years ago to work as construction labourer. But for all these years, she could not go back to her native village in Uttar Pradesh as she did not have money. However, it was only recently that she could visit her native village as she could earn enough money by making different products like bedspreads and stoles.
Kamla is one of the 18 ladies living in slums at Parshuram Bhatta, Jetalpur and Sanjaynagar, who are supported by city-based Srotoshwini Trust to become financially independent by selling products through the trust under brand ‘Churni’. After the brand became self-sustaining last year, the first store of ‘Churni’ opened in Sama on Sunday.

“In 2015 we collected sewing machines and gave them to these women to make designer bags, stoles, bedspreads, curtains, cushion covers and mobile bags. After the first exhibition of these products was successful, we thought of taking it forward,” said Juin Dutta, founder president of the trust. “Initially people used to buy out of sympathy, but now they buy because of quality and the brand ‘Churni’,” she said, “So far we used to market these products through social media, WhatsApp and word of mouth, but after the brand became self-sustaining we decided to open a retail store.”

The profits earned by selling these products are passed on to these women and the trust does not earn anything from it. “The trust runs through donations. In fact, the shop where we have opened the store is also donated by someone. Besides the profit earned, we also give them bonus before Diwali,” she said.

The trust buys raw materials and after providing them to these women, they are trained to create saleable products.

“Through ‘Churni’ we have learnt how to make products and we also teach some of it to other women living around us,” said Suman Tiwari, who lives in Sanjaynagar. Another woman Gauri Verma said, “I am now able to go out and buy things because I am earning which was not possible earlier.”

“We want these women to have a peaceful and financially independent life. We are planning to open more such stores in the city,” said Mousumi Dutta, general secretary of the trust.

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