MUMBAI: Essar Foundation has brought about a positive difference in the lives of the women of Salaya in Gujarat’s Devbhumi Dwarka district. Over the last three years, the Foundation’s Stitching Centre at Salaya has emerged as a steady source of income for local women. The bags produced by the Centre are currently being marketed under the Salaai brand name.
The centre trains local women in sustainable skills, like operating the specialised machines that help in sewing the rexine and leather used as material for the bags. This training is provided through a three-month module and is endorsed by a certificate of completion. Until date, over 500 women in Salaya have successfully completed the training.
The Salaai Stitching Centre was initiated in 2012 with support from the Vagher Muslim Jamat and Rashidaben Suelmanbhai Bhaya, a socially active lady from the community. The Foundation has organised two exhibitions for promoting and selling the products at the Essar Oil township in Jamnagar. In addition, the centre’s products have also been showcased at the national-level NABARD exhibition in Ahmedabad.
Says Deepak Arora, CEO of Essar Foundation, “Skill development and women’s empowerment are core objectives in our efforts to engage with the communities near the manufacturing locations of various Essar businesses. It is gratifying to see the bags selling in large quantities and meeting a nascent demand for such products. While the menfolk in the community are in the fishing profession, the women of Salaya have used their newfound skills to supplement their household income and gain financial independence.”
The Devbhumi Dwarka district is home to several Essar businesses including the 20 million tonne Essar Oil refinery, multiple Essar Power plants, as well as ports that manage dry bulk and liquid cargoes. Apart from Salaai, the Essar Foundation is working on various community initiatives to bring about sustainable development. Says M Rashidaben Khira, the Salaai Stitching Centre manager, and Ayeshaben, a trainer at the centre, “The Foundation has brought about a marked improvement in the economic condition of local women. The Salaai-branded schoolbags and purses are in great demand. We are now receiving bulk orders both from Gujarat and other states.”
This initiative is part of Essar Foundation’s comprehensive strategy of empowering local women in various states. The Foundation operates 10 Lok Vikas Kendras in Gujarat, Odisha, Madhya Pradesh, Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh, West Bengal and Maharashtra through a slew of projects. The projects are aimed at skill development and enterprise for women across activities like handicraft and apparel production, food processing, setting and operating sanitary napkin manufacturing units, and organising exhibitions and events promoting sales & marketing opportunities to trained women.