Roopa Mehta is the CEO of Sasha Association for Craft Producers (“Sasha”) and the Secretary of Sarba Shanti Ayog (SSA) its associate development organisation. Sasha/SSA provides business support inputs and market access for sustainable livelihoods to artisan groups based largely in rural communities and semi urban areas.
Highly dedicated Roopa Mehta is on the Board of Sadhna, the handicrafts and income augmentation programme of Seva Mandir, Udaipur, the Managing Trustee of Ruro Agro Services Association, a registered trust which develops natural agro based products, trains producers and identify suitable markets and on the Board of All India Artisans and Craft persons Association (AIACA). She is also on the Board of the World Fair Trade Organisation.
Roopa Mehta is an MBA from Delhi University with further professional qualifications in Social Communication. In the earlier part of her professional career, Mrs. Mehta worked in hospitality and merchandising sector and she was the Chief Executive Officer of a renowned textiles manufacturing & retailing company before joining Sasha.
With a good school bag and a family background, Irani was dreaming to be a scientist pursuing Physics as a Major when an early arranged marriage brought a sudden end to her dreams. Fifty years ago when social situation was extremely conservative, the bad marriage brought her down the streets.
With nothing but herself- not even her very young son, armed with her self-dignity and many skills in working with both hands, Irani decided to fight all odds and get on her own feet. She began working closely with late Subhashini Kohli, she helped Sarba Shanti Ayog at its initial stage get strong on producer and product base.
Then she moved on and started working as an international consultant to INGOs, BINGOs and FTOs. Her focus has always been helping women to be economically self-sufficient. Her own personal experience taught her that a woman can only have her identity and independence if she is economically self-sufficient. Helping women to produce beautiful handicrafts, to have their own poultry, piggery, kitchen garden to handmade fishing net, she has done it all! During the same period she single handedly fought the court battle for divorce and won it after seven years! She was the first client of Socio Legal Aid Research Aid and Training Centre and she is ever grateful to its Director, Manabendra Mondal.
In the late 80s from an assignment from Swiss Development Corporation, Craft Resource Center was born. An organisation which started from one and a half personnel and two producers, is a totally self sufficient after 26 years today with a turnover of two million dollars. She always believes that a human life needs three basic support- income, health and education and in that order. “If you show the people how to get a secured income you can motivate them to take care of their health and education. I believe that any social change that we wish to bring in must come from the bottom to the top and not the reverse”- signs off Irani.
Rashmi Dhariwal is endowed with a multifaceted personality of an entrepreneur and a social activist. An engineer by education, she runs a Social Enterprise named “SETU-The Bridge To Artisans” and a non-profit charitable organization named “SETU-Society”.
Founder and CEO, “SETU-The Bridge To Artisans” (Exporters of Fair Trade, handmade & sustainable Products), she is a social enterprise, working for upliftment of marginalized artisans. Today she is making a difference in the life of over 20,000 artisans, with over 40 groups and in 17 states in India.
She is presently holding the position of President, at SETU-Society, a non- Profit charitable organization registered under the Societies registration act of 1860 India.
In her fray towards making the world a better place where people can live with equality, dignity and self-sustainability, she laid the foundation of SETU- Society. Established with the basic aim of serving humanity & promoting self-sustainability; love, peace and equality are the words which define SETU.
She is marking the difference by her continuous efforts, to see a change in the world. She is associated with Amar Jyoti charitable Trust also, which works for serving persons with disabilities. She is a dynamic personality, who plays the role of a special lecturer also at many MBA & Design Institutes.
She works with a mission to provide the development to the underprivileged and marginalized artisan groups, while ensuring environment sustainability.
Ms Suman is a pioneer in the struggle to end child labor and trafficking in India. She has worked for more than 25 years for the liberation of child laborers and their empowerment. She believes Right to Food for all is a basic human right and to be free from hunger and malnourishment is the first step towards empowerment. She submitted a report in 2014 to CEDAW committee on Right to Food of Women in India. She lays stress on giving importance to gender aspects of food security. She believes women’s economic and social empowerment not only improves intra-household food distribution and health related matters but also improves the working of food and nutrition programmes. She also works extensively with migrant communities in Delhi for their socio-economic empowerment ensuring their rights are not violated.
Ms Suman envisages a dream of child friendly society free of child labour and exploitation. With the aimof socio-economic empowerment of communities, she providesproducer communities in parts of UP, Delhi, Jharkhand and Bihar with sustainable alternative income generating opportunities through Self Help Groups (SHGs) and Fair Trade. She helps in the production and marketing of goods.She is the Vice-president of FIAN in India. She established one of its kind transit rehabilitation centers in Delhi in 1990 for released bonded and trafficked children, appreciated widely by ILO and UNICEF in 1995. She is a member of Fair Trade Forum-India and has been awarded Rotary Club’s prestigious Paul Harris Fellowship and Antigone Awards in 2005 and 2015 respectively.
Chinni Swamy moved into PURKAL VILLAGE in the Himalayan foothills in 2001. Seeing the deplorable condition of women in the area she decided to empower them. A training programme was started teaching them patch work, applique and quilting. Soon the women formed themselves into self help groups. PURKAL Stree Shakti Samiti was registered in 2010. It now supports 180 women working from 3 centers. They make beautiful quilts, jackets, cushion covers, bags and pouches which are much appreciated by customers in India and abroad.
The artisans not only earn a comfortable livelihood but have also gained in confidence, acquired leadership and business skills and look forward to running their enterprise themselves.\
“With an experience of over 27 years in development sector, Renuka has worked on several critical issues, like gender, rural development, child rights, education and Fair Trade. Having been a part of many international charities, she is presently the CEO of Pardada Pardadi Educational Society, an organisation working for rural development focusing on rural development through education, employment and empowerment of girls and women. Her efforts and work in the social sector has been recognized many times.”
Founder of Upasana, member of Fair Trade Forum – India, Uma Prajapati, heads many social development projects. Uma comes from the fashion designing background, from NIFT, Delhi, and her passion lies in using creative power of design for the grassroot level and creating social business.
Uma is involved with cotton farming community and launched a organic brand, called ‘Paruthi’ for India. Project of Upasana are living demonstrations of what is possible when design takes responsibility of servicing People and the Planet. She is an Agent for Change by using her designing skills.
With an experience of more than 22 years in the field of Health and Population Management, who has worked as an academician, felt the need to give an impetus to the Kerala Handloom industry, with her daughter Chitra Gopalakrishnan and other like minded people.
Indu Menon started her career in a Handloom Project at the Indian Institute of Management, Ahmadabad in 1981.
This project changed her life, when she noticed the dwindling condition of the handloom industry and struggle of artisans for a sustainable livelihood. She started her work, using a simple design and market intervention, while working closely with the government. Since 2007, they are working, to make a simple timeless fabric “thorthu” go global from small ‘baby napkins’ to large ‘beach towels’ and financially sustain a large number of weavers through our venture.
She has also co-authored a book titled “Women Weavers” which addressed their perception of the profession.