Ghar Udyog is aptly named “Business from Home,” reflecting how the artisans are able to do some of the work at their homes. This allows them to take care of domestic duties and children and not waste time traveling. Such flexibility is important for all the cooperatives, but it is crucial for Ghar Udyog because all the embroidery artisans live far away from the Ghar Udyog workplace. They have organized it so that one artisan travels between the workplace and the women’s homes to distribute the pieces and pick up the finished product.
When it was originally formed, Ghar Udyog was located in Santacruz, near the MarketPlace office. In 2009, however, they relocated to Uttan, a fishing village located up the coast from Mumbai. After the move, they had to start from scratch, gathering a new group of artisans. Shamima went house to house in the new location, telling women about how they could start working and earning money. The resulting group was so inexperienced, only one woman had any knowledge of embroidery. Shamima, with the help of Zia from SHARE, had to train them in all aspects of the work and the organization. At first, they had the artisans practice and get experience doing work for the local market. When they were ready, Ghar Udyog began to sew for MarketPlace.
Before Ghar Udyog, these women barely left their homes. Now they travel by train the considerable distance to Santacruz for workshops and social programs. They particularly appreciate the social programs, which have taught them about many issues, including health and legal rights, and which have helped them develop both professionally and personally. They have become leaders in their community and have acquired new-found respect from their husbands. Some of these women did not receive even a basic education and do not know how to read or write. Where their children are concerned, they give education the highest priority.
Ziabhai, Ghar Udyog’s current head, is praised for running a fair workplace, always able to find assignments for artisans requesting work. They particularly enjoy April Fool’s Day because the group has a good-natured and longstanding tradition of playing pranks on Ziabhai that day. They also enjoy an occasional accidental break. When the power goes out temporarily and they can’t work in the workshop, they gather on the terrace and sing songs and play games. “We feel like we are schoolchildren,” one artisan confides. These hardworking women have earned a little fun!