Project Ektara- Women’s skill development project

A craft revival project, generating income for marginalised income groups, mostly women in the NCR region.   The project provides remunerative work to semi- skilled women. The women craft crochet toys from their homes with the material provided. The toys are made in safe materials that are designed to enhance motor skills, cognitive skills in infants and young children.

 

The project began with a small group of women in Nizamuddin Basti. Hope foundation has a livelihood project and as a part of that women were being imparted training in stitching, embroidery and other craft related activities. They were keen to connect to a new market where their skills of crochet and knitting could be used.

Crocheted and knitting as a craft has been known to women across North India.Crocheted products seen in the market have very limited marketability and have slowly been dwindling.

We began developing toys as handcrafted toys with an Indian identity really dont exist. Traditional toys that have been seen in the market are mostly wooden toys. With the influx of Chinese toys with a lot of plastic we found that there was a huge gap that existed in the Indian market. We mostly wanted to created safe toys that would be ideal for young children. Safe cotton was used, the dyes were carefully done to ensure that the end product that comes out can be easily be used by infants and toddlers. As the product development took place and a small set of products were  test marketed we realised the need to expand the production base as well as the designs.

Each design, each product was carefully researched, and tested on young infants before it went to production. Childrens reactions were taken as essentail feedback to better each product.

The project soon became larger with more women joining in. A so called winter skill where women only had work during the winter season to knit sweaters now had work though the year.

At all points of time a fine balance had to be maintained between women who had learnt to mould the toys and to sustain them and to ensure continuous sales. The materials were always provided to them to ensure safety and quality.