In a rural hamlet in Lucknow Sheela is rising to fame: Sisters in Solidarity’s success story
Sisters in Solidarity (SiS) is a nonprofit organization based in Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh. Started in 2008 by Shibani Sahni, with just 3 women enrolled, it has grown slowly and steadily with around 45 women with them today.Today their main focus is towards strengthening women’s collaborative effort to fight poverty, poor quality of life and low self esteem. They intend to do this through hands-on vocational training for empowerment of underserved, marginalized and destitute women from extremely low income groups.
Currently My Didi’s provides training in cooking, tailoring, basic beautician skills and driving. Other than imparting basic vocational skills they also focus on building confidence levels, gumption and inner strength through empowerment workshops. For women who have spent their entire lives in an utterly backward society, thick shells of a feeling of inferiority and shyness tend to develop.
Breaking this shell, and enabling a smooth transition to a confident independent life is at the center of My Didi’s objective. In patriarchal culture of Uttar Pradesh, where domestic violence and sexual and mental abuse are almost a daily happening, such ventures however small , come as a ray of hope.Their model revolves around teaching skills and building small self sustained groups and help them grow into a flourishing enterprise. Their projects help women and young girls acquire a business sense of how to run a venture as a community, how to keep it cost effective and how to keep the end customers satisfied. It brings discipline to their lives and teaches them team work, the art of collaboration and realistic future forecasting of monetary funds – essential skills required to keep any venture afloat.
The three verticals:
DiDi’s Foods is the arm where women are taught how to cook and cater. They are also trained on nutrition and healthy food combination choices. They provide unique opportunities for training in cooking, bakery, confectionery, food processing, packaging, retail and distribution. They serve around 2000 people daily from esteemed organisations like Videocon, HDFC Bank, Citibank, IDEA Cell phone, The Taj Group of Hotels and TATA Consultancy Services.Recently they have partnered with Café Coffee Day and sell their snacks at 3 of their outlets in Lucknow under dual branding packaging.DiDi’s Creations teaches women to tailor uniforms for schools (in Lucknow), and designing women’s garments, home accessories and handicraft goods. Products created by the women are sold in the local markets and at small retail stores
Their salon teaches basic beauty modification skills. The women are trained on tasks like threading, waxing, manicure,pedicure, head and body massages. Recently they opened a small beauty salon.
The Sheela Story:
Sheela is a 40 year old from Lucknow, who is is responsible for My Didi’s delivery. She is one of the first professionally trained drivers in Uttar Pradesh. Despite resistance from the society she learnt the skill in around 3 months and today supports three of her children on the salary she draws from SiS.
The road ahead:
My Didi’s wants to slowly expand their driving related arm to encompass more women and start a venture based on many Delhi based women for women cab networks. Shibani also has plans to expand to other parts of the country once they start generating a steady revenue stream. If you look at the big picture, in a nation of a billion people- the number of people that My didi is reaching out to may seem tiny. But that is how a difference is made. One woman, impacts one family- and the effect spreads, and before you know it, the nation is changing.
We at YourStory wish the My Didi team luck for the road ahead. We hope it grows, and inspires others on the way, paving the way for a developed self sustained India.