November 25 2013

Lighting Up the Road to Entrepreuneurship

Rinku Kumari always aspired to run her own business so she could become self-reliant and improve the lives of her parents and five siblings. But, as a young woman from Banahi, a small impoverished Indian village in southern Bihar, this long-cherished dream seemed unattainable. This all changed last summer when she joined our new vocational training program in Bodhgaya, India.

In July, thanks to your support, Karuna-Shechen was able to offer candle-making workshops to ninety women, enrolled in our 18 non-formal education centers in India. We provided the raw materials and hired a professional trainer. The program was an immediate success and was extended because of higher than anticipated enrolment figures. “We are very pleased with the enthusiastic response from the villagers,” explains Shamsul Akhtar, Karuna-Shechen’s India Director. “Our objective is to empower rural women by teaching them an income-generating skill.”

To that end, seven women were selected from our July workshops participants to take part in a week-long intensive training. Rinku was one of them. She was chosen because of her skills and commitment to this program. “Learning this new craft will not only help me start my own business, it will also improve my family’s living conditions by adding another source of income to our household,” explains Rinku. “I will use part of the money to help pay for my siblings’ education.”

Karuna-Shechen has provided her and other participants with all the necessary raw materials, as well as a dedicated space to work on her craft at our center in Bodhgaya. Rinku has already made 1219 candles of 38 varieties.  The first candles were sold during the Hindu Festival of Lights (Diwali) at an average price of $1.

Through this program, Karuna-Shechen aims to offer a launching pad for entrepreneurial ventures to rural women. For Rinku, this is a crucial part of the training: “Karuna-Shechen provides me with essential business information to help me get better access to markets and a fair price for my candles.” As a result, she is now on the road to achieving her childhood dream of becoming a young female entrepreneur.