Life in rural India comes with its own challenges, but Shanti gains strength from her challenges. From a weaver without opportunity of education to an empowered, qualified entrepreneur in 5 years – this would be her story in a nutshell.
Shanti was one among the hundred women in Manpura village, Rajasthan without basic education that wove hand-knotted rugs for a local contractor. Their lack of education made it very easy for ill-minded people to exploit them. It took Shanti several years to realize the extent of exploitation she and her fellow weavers were subject to at the hands of the contractor. Exploitation in terms of wages, schedule and accuracy of payments came to Shanti’s notice when more and more weavers in her village came in touch with the foundation. Shanti soon realized that accuracy, timeliness & transparency in disbursement of wages are what differentiated her from the happier weavers in her village.
The factors that made the big shift in Shanti’s life were included her own determination to excel in what she was good at – weaving, and her will to fight exploitation & demand fairness. She participated in the foundation’s alternative education program and transformed herself from a weaver to an entrepreneur.
From one of the 4 weavers at a contractor’s loom, Shanti is today running 4 looms at her own house and providing a sustainable employment opportunity to 15 women of her village. Shanti, along with her employees attend the Alternate Education Program even today. She says, “Learning is an endless process”.
Shanti’s husband, a vegetable vendor selling small quantities of vegetables from a hand cart is proud of Shanti’s transformation and her growth from a village home maker to a self-made entrepreneur. Today, Shanti is an inspiration to not only the 15 weavers who she has employed, but to every aspiring woman of her village.