Udyogini started working in the Pugal block of Bikaner district, Rajasthan, 30 km from the Pakistan border in 2003 with the goal of establishing a locally-owned and operated enterprise around artisan products. The area is characterized by extreme desert climate, sparsely located villages with poor connectivity and limited transportation, limited mobility. Additionally, women we worked with were from the Rajput caste, which are the most socially secluded of all the women in the area.
In Rajput women and women of other non-artisanal castes, Udyogini developed the skill of appliqué, the craft known for its minimalism and market potential. At the end of Udyogini's 7 years' presence in Pugal, almost 1000 women had been skilled or had their skills upgraded, technically and managerially. Additionally, the traditional craft of embroidery was upgraded in quality to fetch better returns per piece for artisans who were supplying to the low-end export market controlled by traders in Barmer district. We established a supply chain covering 10 remote villages where producers work at home and are linked to a central aggregation and distribution center in Pugal, the block headquarters. We helped make market linkages with buyers in Rajasthan and through exhibitions in many states. Women on Wings, a Netherlands-based communications and marketing company (www.womenonwings.nl) provided technical support for product branding. A cadre of women and men Business Development Service Providers (BDSPs) ensure the distribution and production.
Udyam Jagran Sansthan (UJAS) is a registered body of producers that Udyogini has successfully helped to establish for both business and social support. UJAS manages both with the support of two incubated entrepreneurs, Babu Singh and Raju Devi. In addition to production and marketing, UJAS is also running crèches for children of producers in 14 villages serving approximately 300 children. The crèche activity is the first grant and that UJAS has directly received that is not routed through Udyogini, an affirmation of the successful entry to stage 4 of the Pugal project!
Babu Singh and Raju Devi graduated to become entrepreneurs from BDSPs, looking after production and marketing for an entire cluster of production villages and shifted to being paid partially on commission to investing in the business by taking loans from social venture capital. Raju Devi is also in charge of the crèche program.