Women in Uttar Pradesh, for the past five years, have been making textile products for IKEA, the Swedish-founded, Netherlands-headquartered furniture and home appliances’ giant.
Through Rangsutra, around 600 women now work with IKEA, which still does not have a retail presence in India but is expected to open soon.
“Since 2012 IKEA, has been forming partnerships with social entrepreneurs around the world. The social entrepreneurs IKEA works with gain access to a global marketplace, giving them a strong foundation for self-sufficiency and independence,” said Vaishali Mishra, Global Leader, Social Entrepreneur Initiatives, IKEA.
“These partnerships are a new way to make business where everyone wins. The social entrepreneurs gain access to a global marketplace and are able to provide the artisans with a job on their own terms, helping them stay in their village and at the same time provide for their families,” she added.
Mishra said that across the years, she has seen lives change.
“I remember the same women were so shy and withdrawn initially. They would not come out in the open without their ghunghats on,” she said. “Today, you see them confidently taking up the job, feeling responsible and confident” about being able to make a financial contribution to the family, she stressed.
With little dreams for themselves and big ones for their children, every morning many of these women hail a ride on auto-rickshaws and bicycles to the IKEA workshop here in Mirzapur.
The workshop has some inspiring, and some very heart-touching stories about women with calibre, women with confidence and about women who dream to become big and move beyond the social barriers.