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Employment While In Lockdown – One Handbag At A Time

Women take to selling handmade products in order to put food on the table

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When the pandemic came knocking at the doors of our nation, it brought with it a set of conditions for the “new normal” like staying indoors at all times, avoiding physical contact. The most unbearable of them all was the loss of livelihoods experienced by many men and especially women. Months of no fixed income, no work, and uncertainty stared at the face of many women’s lives. However, when many women were struggling to find work and feed their families, Prasanna Bhat of Samruddhi Mahila Mandali (an organization that helps uplift and empower women) extended a helping hand.

One of the workshops that Bhat had attended was held by the government with the intention of helping women prepare and market food items such as papad and sandige. But, selling food when a pandemic was haunting the streets didn’t seem all-that-good of an idea to Bhat as people would always hesitate to buy food from outside at perilous times such as these. Therefore, she came up with a better idea. To make and sell handbags. Bhat then formed a group of 16 women, many of whom were tailors and teachers who came together to make various kinds of handbags. When they first came together in April, little did they know that when they hit the market in June the demand would be immense. And like that, they began their journey of selling handbags made out of cloth, jute, and macrame. Samruddhi Sanjeevini is the name of the group, the brand and therefore the bags are sold under the same name. 

The price of the bags range from Rs 200 to Rs 700 and depend upon the trends. Initially, notes Bhat, people had an inclination to buy more jute bags while now, they would rather like to buy a bag made of macrame. The group has also tried to sell a variety of other products like herbal medicines for new mothers, hair oil, and has also helped other women in marketing their products, an example for which would be the help the team has extended to Lalitha Koravadi, a woman who is physically challenged to sell products like handbags and key chains. 

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