Helping women earn a better living pays off for everybody – mothers provide better nutrition and health care and spend more on their children. On average, girls and women spend 90% of their earned income on their families, while men only spend 30-40% on providing for the family.
We’ve provided more than 100,000 economically vulnerable women throughout India with vocational training, start-up capital, and marketing assistance, as well as access to microcredit loans from government-regulated banks and affordable insurance plans.
The women use these assets to form self-help groups, share microsavings accounts, and start their own home-based businesses. For many of the women, it is the first job they have ever had.
Since 1998, we have provided monthly pensions for widows and other women in poverty. In 2006, the project was expanded to benefit the physically and mentally challenged and now serves a total of 59,000 beneficiaries. Ultimately, we will provide monthly pensions for 100,000 impoverished men, women and children who are struggling to make ends meet.
Recognizing that disability and/or the loss of a family member can consign those in the developing world to a lifetime of hardship, our pensions have no expiration date—they are given for life.
Amma’s Amrita University runs an institute dedicated to reviving the traditional craft of wood carving, as part of a broader mission to help preserve India’s cultural heritage. The school’s courses have been specially designed to address issues that have plagued the handicrafts industry in recent years. In order to raise quality standards while simultaneously increasing output capacity, the courses incorporate modern machinery-based sculpting skills. The school also trains its students in negotiation as well as how to work effectively with banks. The school will identify and train 1,000 students over the next five years who have a natural aptitude for the craft. Each student receives a monthly stipend to cover living expenses during their studies. The school is also providing training to some of our women’s self-help groups.
Founded in 1989, our Industrial Training Center provides training for 500 teenagers in 11 different trades. The school strives to build the youths’ confidence, giving them a sense of self-reliance so they can enter the work force with confidence. The center has more than an 80% graduation rate and is highly regarded by employers.
After the 2004 Indian Ocean Tsunami, the center opened its doors, free of charge, to hundreds of local youths in order to help them rebuild their lives after the disaster.
Our Vocational Training Center, attached to our Amrita Children’s Home and launched in April 2009, was built to serve the population of the nearby slum settlement Jam City. The center is run in association with the CAP Youth Empowerment Institute.
Using computers and hands-on classroom sessions, the center trains unemployed adults in fields ranging from tailoring and housekeeping to carpentry, plumbing, and electrical trades. So far we’ve enrolled 293 students, with a course completion rate of more than 98 percent. 19 graduates have started their own businesses, and another 171 graduates have found work at existing companies, where they earn up to $400 a month – well above the poverty line.
Team building and leadership skills are an integral part of the vocational training programs. Beyond the training itself, course participants say the Center has become like a second home for them.
Suvarnna’s father passed away when she was just three years old. Raised by her single mother along with her three brothers, she was encouraged to stay home and help out around the house. But Suvarnna had a dream. She wanted to learn the traditional technique of sculpting wood. Suvarnna’s family discouraged her – they didn’t feel there was any future in learning a dying art form. But Suvarnna persisted and finally they let her join our school for sculpting.
In 2010, Svarna won the award for Best Sculptor in her home state of Kerala. She was the first woman to do so. Now she’s writing a textbook on traditional wood sculpture, to make sure that this ancient art form has a future as bright as hers.
In rural parts of India, it is extremely difficult for women to find opportunities to make a living. We administer funds from a government grant program to provide vocational training in these communities. We helped one group start a small business making pappadam. They started out making them by hand but soon demand was high enough that they couldn’t keep up, and with a micro-loan from a bank, they bought a machine to expedite their work. Now they have even been able to give jobs to other women as well. Watch the video to see these women explain their business model, their plans for the future, and the way with hard work, an eye for quality and a little help from Embracing the World, they’ve been able to turn their lives around.
Ajitha’s mother and her husband both have cancer. She joined one of our self-help groups, received vocational training and support to start a business with some of her classmates. With her earnings from the business she shares, she is able to feed her entire family of five and pay for her children’s education and her husband’s and mother’s medical care. The other women in the group also help to support her and her family, both emotionally and financially.
A leader of one of our self-help groups explains how they have been able to grow and diversify their business, from making umbrellas to hand lotion, as well as fabric painting and decorative glass. After two years, they were able to secure a loan to triple the size of their business. Watch the video to hear her explain in her own words the difference our program has made in her life.