The India Skills Report rightly points out the high Drop out of Labour Force in case of women between the age range of 21 to 50.
Sapna and Kavita, both dropped out or in the strictest sense never really participated in the “workforce” as defined by the industry standards.
Meet our Beauty-Preneurs….
The world outside home conjured up tension in Sapna’s mind. She was conditioned to fear the space outside home, as a woman. The struggle to meet ends at home was immense, but going out of home for job was barred. The option was to seek something which can be navigated within the safe spaces of home and hence beauty as a trade was chosen.
This indeed challenges the concept of entrepreneurial spirit which apparently is exhibited through taking risk, chartering new geographies, creating new market and so on.
Sapna is no less an entrepreneur and a bigger risk taker, undaunted by poverty and challenges in her younger years. She was a self-starter managing to learn beauty skills from others. Her capital was scourged through doing odd services here and there, a stray manicure, a pedicure on a reluctant individual.
Today Sapna is a Beauty-Preneur, running her parlour and training centre in partnership with Salon-i, expanding her training academy, have more girls training from her. However Sapna’s ambitions are rooted in things not quite in the scheme.
She wants to reach out to more and more girls, not because she wants to earn money, but because, she believes in reaching the unreached.
In 2013, Kavita decided to step out of the house to do something. The reason she cites is of realizing this Sisyphean task as a woman constantly giving account of your life to others.
She just wanted to taste freedom in all ways and fell back on the skills she had once acquired. Of course she didn’t want to work full time, partly because that doesn’t guarantee flexibility and partly she still owed some commitment to home- a small bribe to negotiate some hours outside of that space.
She started her small salon and moved on to start training. That is how she claims to have crossed the otherwise invisible threshold- meeting new people, traveling to new places. She mentions, suddenly the roads near her house in Saoner, Nagpur seems too narrow, congested. Earlier, she recalls, she was afraid taking onto those very roads. “May be I put on a new pair of lens”- she smiled saying.
And lens indeed had changed for her, with newfound vision of identifying gender discrimination.
She has trained around 225 women till now and is currently training her 11th batch of trainees. Women from her village as well as from nearby villages come to her parlor for training. The women are from varied backgrounds some of them are married, some are unmarried while some are school/college drop outs. Kavita ensures that her centre is that safe open space to discuss about body, gender rights and discrimination. Kavita says, “Important issues which don’t get discussed at homes get discussed in my parlor”.
Her own experience of navigating a space outside home makes her think of extending the same space to her girls, and that is her entrepreneurial offer.
And so came Beauty-Preneur:
The above stories paved us the way to envisage the Salon-i Beauty-Preneur program.
We understood, of the thousands of women we have reached, many have chosen to become entrepreneurs. However their aspirations are unique- profit is needed, but the choice has to do more with reaching out to others, extend access and sisterhood. Also there was need to be guided and hand-held into financial sustainability of the business and access to institutional finance.
These are also the women, we found can be our leads to reach out to more women and girls.
Also their risk-taking ability and resilience prove to be positive reinforcement for others, bringing in a sense of optimism in them.
In 2016, the Godrej Salon-i program reached out to women in the beauty & wellness sector in various parts of the country – Maharashtra, Delhi, Gujarat, Nagaland & Bihar were micro-entreorenurs, by giving them a platform which was named the “Beauty-Preneur” program. The “Beauty-Preneur” program aimed to incubate entrepreneurship in women in the area of beauty & wellness, thereby enabling these women to start training other girls as well as empowering them through life skills and entrepreneurship. The model of the Beauty-Preneur project consisted of entrepreneurship, beauty and life skills as core components of the trainings.
The encouraging stories of our “Beauty-Preneurs” are proof that the core values and goals of our program have helped us succeed in crossing the traditional barriers set for women. These women bravely set out on their own as entrepreneurs, rallying support for each other, breaking barriers and bringing on a revolution. We supported their movement, recognized their efforts and gave these women a boost through our “Beauty-Preneur” program.