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Embroidery skills have turned an enterprising group of women in Uttar Pradesh’s Aagapur village into entrepreneurs reports The Hindu.

The Sadabahar Self Help Group in Aagapur village of Rampur district, involved in zari and patchwork started with an initial contribution of just Rs. 20 per month by each member in 2000. Munisha, a ‘dress designer’ in her own right is the driving force behind the group that has 14 members.

They have been able to increase the amount to Rs. 15,000, after which the group was given a revolving fund of Rs. 25,000 by a bank for buying raw materials like cloth, threads, zari and other requirements. In 2003, the group, which is now making a regular profit, took another loan of Rs. 240,000.

The members, mostly illiterate, started with training in patchwork and then went on to learning zari work. Munisha says she and some other women underwent six months’ training in zari work as there is a huge scope for this work. Zari work from Rampur is famous; it is exported to Gulf countries and many families in the district have been doing it for generations.

The Group has also trained young girls in the craft and now they are able to earn money and help their families. They include Nasreen and Nisha. Eighteen-year-old Nasreen has never been to school but now earns some money through work given to her by the Sadabahar group.

Nisha, on the other hand, studies in ninth standard. “We are not allowed to go out and work in the fields and the zari work can be done by sitting at home.”

The profit earned from the sales is divided among the members of the group. All the women in the group belong to low-income group families and some of them even work under MGNREGA projects. More than saving money and entrepreneurship, the group has become an extended family where the women can share their joys and sorrows.

Whenever any member of the group requires money, they can take a loan on two per cent interest. One of them, Durga, says, “At least, we don’t have to go to money lenders for our small needs.”

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