IDS 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 traditional 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.”
During 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.
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.