Ankur Kala is a centre in
West Bengal, India, that provides vocational skills training for
local women. Students produce various handicrafts and food
products. Through this practice, the women develop vital life and
literacy skills, and small business management knowledge which can
provide them with a viable means of economic independence.
Students begin the learning process by
producing handmade crafts and preserves. With the support of
the centre, they progress on to marketing and selling the goods
they produce. The formal apprenticeships offered by the centre last
for two years and allow students time to learn basic
literacy, numeracy and essential small business skills. After
graduation, the women can either establish their own production
unit, or complete their work from home. Exceptional graduates have
the opportunity of being invited back to the centre as supervisors
to pass on their insights to new students.
In response to growing demand for similar
programmes in outlying areas, the centre has also launched a Rural
Networking Programme. In a similar fashion to the centre's original
programme, vocational and marketing training is provided to
impoverished young women. This will be the first step in creating a
more sustainable community in rural West Bengal through initiatives
in organic farming, kitchen gardens, rainwater harvesting, as well
as community health, literacy and housing.
Key benefits and impact
- Over a thousand women have been
empowered since the centre opened in 1982.
- The centre has the capacity to train one
hundred and fifty women simultaneously.
- After a one-month trial period, women are put
on six months' probation during which they learn basic reading and
writing. Approximately 95% stay on past this period.
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