READ Global Blog - The Library Log: On Proverty and Education in Rural Asia

Published: Friday, 12 February 2016

Women Participants


In 2014, we reached out to Accenture to present our unique model and invite their team to check out a center in action. After seeing all of the activities going on in the Dehli READ Center, Accenture decided to partner with READ India for “Skills to Succeed” – Accenture’s global initiative to equip people with the skills to succeed in business.

Today, we’re talking with READ India Design Consultant Purva Bhuwnesh, who will give us an insider’s look at what it takes to empower entire communities (with a focus on women) with the employment skills it takes to thrive in today’s global economy.

 

READ Global: Hi Purva! Thanks for taking the time to give our readers a firsthand look at one our most successful programs. How about we start out with the main goals of Skills to Succeed?

Purva: Our main objective is to create employment opportunities for women living in isolated rural communities. There is immense potential and ambition hidden in these communities that have never been explored, so we help these women build their business and design skills, and then give their skills a platform.

A mother and daughter walk through a remote village in India.

READ Global: And what is it about these skills that help the women to succeed?

Purva: First and foremost, these women are now able to bring in an income for their families. That’s huge. Then, this monetary success creates a sense of pride in the community. Additionally, these skills – such as basketry and cot knitting – are traditions that have been passed over generations, so there is often an emotional connection and even an identity connected with having these skills.

READ Global: There are other organizations with similar programs, but what makes Skills to Succeed so unique?

Purva: Unlike any other program that I have worked with, Skills to Succeed operates on a combination of two principles – the existing skills in a community and the need of a community – and the programs are customized to specifically meet those criteria. So, this isn’t a one-size-fits-all operation; each community is approached with customized programs that are crafted for their success.

Trainings are tailored to meet the specific needs of each community. Women participating in the training.

READ Global: With that kind of customization, what opportunities do these women have access to that they may not have had before?

Purva: A key outcome of Skills to Succeed is the showcase events that are put on after the trainings. READ India organizes events where potential buyers are invited to browse and purchase the women’s handcrafted, high-quality products. This exposure brings a plethora of relationships and opportunities that wouldn’t have been possible otherwise.

Skills to Succeed participants present their designs at a READ India showcase.

READ Global: Sounds like an amazing way to bring in new revenue to a community.

Purva: Yes, while designing products, we make sure that all the raw materials and processing facilities are availed from the village itself in order to bring maximized revenue and other benefits to the community. This also educates and encourages people to learn more about the programs and their local READ Centers.

READ Global: Lastly, are there any stories of empowerment you've witnessed during the program that have been especially moving to you?

Purva: Yes – an 80 year old READ Center user, Taufa Devi, is the oldest yet most active Skills to Succeed participant. At first, her family was not keen on her participating, partly due to their concerns about her age, but also largely due to their existing prejudices about traditional women’s roles. Before this, Taufa rarely even stepped outside her home.

Despite her family’s resistance, Taufa Devi decided to become part of the program because of the absolute joy she felt when working with basketry. Today, she is a Head Trainer for Skills to Succeed basketry trainings and is empowering other women to earn income and take charge of their own futures. She’s the first one in and the last one out every day!

Taufa Devi happily leads the basketry training sessions.

READ Global: Such an incredible story. Thank you again for chatting with us, Purva!

If you’d like to help READ Global continue empowering women through programs like this, please make a contribution here.


About Purva Bhuwnesh:

Purva

Purva Bhuwnesh, READ India Design Consultant

Purva is a Graduate of Engineering and Design. She specialized in spatial and product design at her time in Srishti school of Art, Design and Technology. As a design consultant for READ India, she currently works with multiple communities in Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan to help develop products for craft-based sustainable enterprises.