August 1st, 2023 : Project Prayas’, a CSR initiative of Birla White at Jodhpur, Rajasthan aims to contribute towards helping socio-economically marginalised women to get opportunities of sustainable livelihoods for better quality of life. Since 2003, the Birla White CSR team had been helping these women avail bank loans to meet their personal and household expenses after helping them form a self-help group (SHG) called Prayas Sakhi Mandal. In 2019 the Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) team commenced training the women in stitching and tailoring. Having completed the training, some of the women used to work at their houses and meet the orders received from the local community. But several others were struggling to set up their own enterprises in tailoring. During the lockdown, most of them used to make and sell face masks. The irregular and insufficient earnings did not allow them to send their children to schools or their families to avail proper healthcare.
Turning potential into opportunity
To provide sustainable livelihoods to the women who were already trained in stitching, the Birla White unit team launched ‘Project Prayas’ this year. The team identified stitching and supplying of the safety reflective jackets used by the unit employees as an opportunity for the women. The team selected 20 women from the SHG and provided special training to them in making of the jackets in line with international standards of safety and as per the Company’s quality norms.
On the basis of the samples of the jackets made by the women, an order for 975 jackets was placed by the unit to the SHG in May 2023. Out of the 20 women who took the special training, 12 women were selected for fulfilling the order. The unit team created a dedicated safety jacket production facility in the premises owned by the company near its unit for the SHG members. The unit provided the fabric and other raw materials for making the jackets. Within a month the women delivered over 500 jackets.
Renewed identity of rural women
The project helped renew the identity and boost the confidence of the rural women like Sunita Kumari. A 26-year-old woman from the village, Kharia Khangar in Jodhpur district, Sunita used to earn a meagre living for her family from agriculture in a small piece of land. She wanted to send her two children to a good school. The village physician often referred them to multispecialty hospitals for specialised treatments. However, the income from the agricultural work was not adequate for Sunita and her family to meet the requirements for school fees or medical expenses. Being a member of the SHG, she took training in tailoring provided by the CSR team. She was one of those selected for manufacturing the safety reflective jackets. With the supplementary income she is expecting from the delivery of the jackets, she is confident of sending her children to a good school. She said, “I feel financially empowered now and have found a new identity and confidence as I can take independent decisions and have a better say in family matters.”
Our Company undertakes our social initiatives under the aegis of The Aditya Birla Centre for Community Initiatives and Rural Development with Mrs. Rajashree Birla as its Chairperson. The key focus areas are education, healthcare, sustainable livelihoods, community infrastructure and social causes. Our Company reaches out to more than 1.6 million beneficiaries in over 500 villages in 16 states across India.
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