News from HEF and the artisans of Himalayan Naari

Himalayan Naari knitters FBIDS recently received a quarterly report from the Himalayan Education Foundation (HEF) about the progress of the Himalayan Naari project. A HEF affiliate, Himalayan Naari is a women’s self-help group based in the villages of Chaukori and Munsiyari in Uttarakhand. Its mission is the empowerment of women. Through projects such as knitted and woven wool products, over 100 talented artisans are turning their tradHimalayan Naari knitters profile FBitional skills into a sustainable business.

The Himalayan Naari project is intended to provide start-up support and business-building skills to the artisans–local knitters and weavers. One of the goals is to improve the business and computer literacy of the local women; during the first quarter of 2016, a competency survey was conducted to identify training needs. Computer training (funded by IDS) has already begun in Munsiyari and is scheduled to begin in Chaukori in July. IDS funds were also used to pay a design consultant to develop a color palette and a new product for the knitting group–a “one-size-fits-all top.”
Himalayan sheep herding FBDuring the next six months of computer training, the participants will learn to transfer their existing business skills (spreadsheets, billing and bill paying, letter writing, etc.) to the computer. Other training will include making backups of work, editing photos, transferring files, and using the cloud to store and share information. Smartphones are becoming more common among local families, and Instagram was recently introduced to the group.
 Himalayan Naari booth II FB

Other highlights from the first quarter

1. Two local coordinators were hired in March 2016 to lead the project (with support from HEF and funding from IDS). 2. Retail sales of Himalayan Naari products have increased; the products are now being carried by two new high-end stores in Keene, NH and Providence, RI. 3. HN has been selected as the “featured” artisan project for the 2016 holiday season by Shared Trade, an online retailer specializing in the work of marginalized women. The Naari artisans are working on large knitting and weaving orders to be shipped directly to the vendor. 4. HEF has identiHimalayan Naari two knitters FBfied an Indian partner to begin market exploration in India. She is currently interviewing and photographing the artisans in order to familiarize herself with the project and to develop marketing materials.
In the future, the organizers hope to create a village-wide intranet and to draw more women and children (and other interested people) into the education efforts.