INDIA. Mumbai, Maharashtra: Mohan Rathod grew up in a slum community in Mumbai. He was a first-hand witness to the impact of poverty and its weight upon women and girls especially. Determined to provide opportunities for women to pull themselves from poverty, Rathod, along with his two friends Maruti Basaraj Chauhan and Dhanraj Chatru Chauhan, all residents of Ambedkar Nagarand, launched a startup named Hamari Silai. Hamari Silai is a social enterprise dedicated to skill development and employment opportunities for women in Mumbai’s slum.
The inspiration behind Hamari Silai Centre
Rathod observed that his sister was not sent to school. Instead, she was asked to look after household responsibilities and her siblings. He saw his mother’s sacrifices as well. The hardships faced by his mother and sister left a profound impact. Thus, he decided to do something for the welfare of women.
Creating a custom tailoring business
In an interview with Transcontinental Times, Rathod said, “90% of the women in my community are working as maids or at the dockyards where they clean fish and de-shell prawns. They hardly earn 150-200 Rs per-day, which is not sufficient.”
He further added, “I have seen that girls are not being sent to school. We decided to begin with skill training.”
Initially, they started tailoring workshops with the help of tailor Karan Chaurasiya. They first began their business in a room they had rented out for Rs 5,000. What started with a handful of women now employs 60.
The growth of Hamari Silai Centre
The women are now out of the learning phase and have started generating income by taking orders from markets for stitching t-shirts, bags, and traditional ornaments in the banjara style.
Recently, they have opened a centre in Karnataka and have plans to open 10 more centres in Mumbai at multiple locations. Maruti and Dhanraj Chauhan are helping Mohan achieve these targets.
Meanwhile, Rathod is looking forward to widening the centre’s horizon by reaching out to different slums in Mumbai. “We need to train and empower as many women as possible. However, we will need funds so that we can achieve our targets as we required machines, trainers, raw material, etc.”
The need now is greater than ever. Rathod said, “COVID-19 has impacted the world. In Ambedkar Nagar, 90% of families are jobless and have zero income. With the help of our Hamari Silai Centre, we manage to help families. We have distributed around 2000 sanitary pads, 500 masks and also groceries to 1000 families during the lockdown period.”