Global Links Final Report- Business Development, Advocacy on Social/Environmental issues, and Women’s empowerment

By Anisha Pandey

Global Links Volunteer

Kolkata, India

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The topic on “Women Empowerment” is a burning issue all over the world. The Global Links program is a public-private partnership between the U.S. Secretary of State’s Office of Global Women’s Issues, Rollins College, and Tupperware. The Global Links program and its scholars contribute to upholding the overall Rollins mission to develop global citizens through education and community building.

By giving women the opportunity of education and knowledge of entrepreneurship, Global Links program is helping them to be more confident, independent and receptive in communities – and in society as a whole.

As a part of this programme several students were selected as volunteers out of whom 13 students at present have been assigned one female entrepreneur each. In this way, I was assigned Mrs. Momena Khatun as my client. She has a cycle handle grip manufacturing business. During the entire journey, several workshops and field visits were held and we were supposed to focus on three deliverables namely, Business development, Advocacy on social/environmental issues and Women’s empowerment.

Client’s business

My client’s name is Momena Khatun, and her business is manufacturing cycle handle grips.  The business has been going on for eight years.  Initially, she was not very involved but through the years she grew to play a vital role in decision making.  The business started in a rented place that costed approximately 50,000 rupees to 55,000 rupees per month.  Over time they saw this as not efficient and decided to have their own factory and machines.  The proverb of no risk no gain certainly suits my client.  They took a loan from Bandhan bank but even this was not enough so they sold their two flats and self-invested.

Process

Procuring raw material- Raw materials namely waste of PVC sole and saline pipes are procured from a place named ‘42 bus stand karkhana’.

Mixing color and melting- Then color is added with the procured material and melted in a melting machine.

Cooling- The melted output is then cooled.

Processing- The cooled material is then poured into the main machine where the cooled and melted plastic is given the shape of cycle handle grips with the help of dice.

Packaging- The final product is then packed for delivery. The product is sold on Benton street.

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Business problem’s

  1. Pending construction of factory
  2. IT return filing
  3. Less involvement of client in the business
  4. Lack of green and clean environment

Outputs achieved

  1. Business Development
  • Helping in filing income tax return- Though carrying on a profitable and successful business, my client Momena Khatun did not have any proper legal documents. After interacting with several people I found Md. Ejaz as the right person to help my client get proper documentation. He is currently working on the preparatory steps after meeting my client.
  • Trade license- Apart from income tax return filing, I have provided my client with the steps for applying for trade license as well. She will apply for trade license as soon as the work for income tax is over. This is my goal for the next few months.
  • Scientific accounting- They did not follow a scientific accounting practice. So, I have designed a format of cost sheet and taught her basic accounting concepts which will help her in maintaining systematized books of accounts.
  • Completion of the pending construction- With the help of the recent loan from Bandhan Bank it was our decision to first utilize the money in completing the pending construction of the workplace or the rains could cause serious damage to the machines. Accordingly, the workplace has been constructed with proper stairs and glass walls and several rooms which earlier were just a big space with no proper construction.
  • Increase in number of machines- Also, the number of machines has increased from three to four which has certainly increased their production and profit, thereby increasing the wages of laborers as well ( as piece rate payment of wages prevails)

Women Empowerment

  • Business Supervision- At first, the business was totally handled by her husband but now I have been able to involve my client into the business. Earlier her husband did every bit of work beginning from procurement of raw materials to delivery but now my client Mrs. Momena has been supervising the work. Every day after her household work she supervises the factory workers which reduces her husband’s workload as well. I explained to her the beauty of balancing home life with work life and practical steps in time management.
  • Decision making –She now actively takes part in decision making along with her husband. They work like a team now.
  • Building self-esteem and confidence- Involvement in the business increased her self-confidence. Also, she is keen to know the technological world and I am introducing her to the social media. She is now an active user of Facebook and Whatsapp.womenempowermentanisha
  • Connection with NGO- I introduced her to Md. Ejaz, a member of the ‘HUM’ NGO who is not only helping her with the registration procedure of Income tax return but also he and his NGO is looking forward to developing her business communication skills and giving her ideas for innovation and progress.

 

Social and environmental issues

Keeping the factory clean- Their idea of using waste PVC sole and saline pipes was certainly an appreciable step towards solving the social and environmental issues, but one problem was that they did not have a single dustbin in the factory. Everything was thrown here or there. I have managed to keep dustbins in the factory which has led to cleaner and healthier factory environment. I have also explained to my client, her children, friends, and neighbors the importance of having a clean and hygienic environment.

Conclusion

“I alone cannot change the world but I can cast a stone across the waters to create many ripples”

-Mother Teresa

I am really thankful to the organizers of the Global Links programme for giving me such a golden opportunity. The valuable suggestions and the workshops have been a great source of motivation and inspiration all throughout. The memories of exploring Kolkata with Michelle and Dr. Conway, the party on the cruise and the entire Global Links journey will be cherished till eternity. I would like to thank each and every person associated with this programme beginning with Professor Sharmistha Banerjee who demonstrated the true meaning of being a teacher. She taught me that a teacher is not only one who educates and instructs, but who cares, encourages and inspires. I hope one day I can have the same characteristics as Prof. Banerjee and be as devoted to my career as she is to hers. Her compassionate and kind actions reveal her to be a true humanitarian. The way she manages all her work within a short span of time inspires me.

Dr. Conway inculcated in me the spirit of being happy in any situation. Her sense of humor and the way she handles all her work is a big lesson for me. She never behaved like a strict teacher rather she was a friendly guide and a friend who understood me better than myself.

Michelle taught me to be extroverted and adjust in any situation. She never behaved as if she came to India for the first time. She was eager to know things and adapted herself easily to this environment.

Abira ma’am and Anusri ma’am inculcated in me the sense of responsibility. They motivated me, throughout and the way they managed the entire programme is highly appreciable.

I want to thank all the volunteers for their help, support, and cooperation in making this program a success.

And last but not the least I would like to thank my mother who has always been an example of a strong woman. My mother was able to change our family’s orthodox thinking all by herself. Educating daughters, giving them an opportunity to work before and after marriage and eradicating child marriage were the main issues which she wanted to solve. She is still an inspiration for many in our neighborhoods. People are proud of my mother but I want to make her proud as well. This programme has certainly helped me in doing so. The memorable moment was when my parents got a tea invitation from the U.S Consulate General and also when my mother stood up amongst many during the Tupperware programme to give her idea of change in the society not only brought a big, proud smile on my face but also gave me a sense of accomplishment.

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Rollins College and Google igniteCS Project

 

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Rollins College student and Bonner Leader Sam Sadeh is helping to promote computer science in local schools and communities with the help of a grant from Google.  IgniteCS, an initiative that Google started three years ago, allows student-led groups to pitch a project that will implement computer science into communities.  The student groups ask Google for funding and support to bring that project into fruition.

Dr. Dan Myers received a promotional call from Google in August about igniteCS, and advised Sam to put together a project to pitch to Google.  Sam has connections at Fern Creek, a Title I, high-need elementary school, so he designed a program and proposal, sending it to Google in September, with Dr. Myers as his advisor.  Funding only about 30-40 projects in the past 3 years alone, Google decided to award a grand for Sam’s project.

Sam, along with Rollins student volunteers, will be visiting Fern Creek once a week beginning this semester for hour and a half long sessions with the 4th grade class.  They will be teaching students computer science topic using ‘Scratch’ programming and language.  ‘Scratch’ was developed at MIT to be an educational programming environment, teaching students to take graphical components and put them together, making it easy to create animations.  The child-friendly software allows the students to write stories that have animations or create their own stories.  Sam designed this project around a creative aspect, hoping it will demystify computers for the elementary students.

This is the first time Rollins has done such a program.  This spring, Sam and Dr. Myers will be able to find out what is going to work and what’s not going to work, learning alongside the elementary students they mentor.  Their hope is that this will be a sustainable program at Rollins for future students to collaborate with Google and implement computer science into the local community—a hope that Google shares, provided that Rollins continues to meet eligibility.  IgniteCS requires a minimum of 5 participating college students, with at least one upperclassman and one lowerclassman as student leaders.

Sam was assisted in writing and leading this proposal by Julie Anna Contino, Alexandra DeLucia, Grace Soto, and Hannah Holman.  Sam’s project is still open to a few more Rollins students who want to volunteer.  Anyone can get involved—a computer science major is not necessary.  Rollins students who are involved have virtual access to Google engineers as advisors, resume workshops, practice interviews, and guest speakers.  This is a unique and fulfilling opportunity for Rollins, and a remarkable experience for Rollins students to participate.  Continue to follow us as we share Sam and his team’s journey with igniteCS.

Email changemaker@rollins.edu for more information.

A Letter to the Global Links Program

By Kalapi Dutta, Global Links Changemaker 

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In this technological era of the 21st century, I would like to write a letter the old-school way, even as Whatsapp and Messenger overrule, to something which I hold dear to my heart.

Dear Global Links,

Will it be improper to say that I was waiting for you all this while?  It might sound cheesy but it is true.

It’s been just a year that I have known you, and though I won’t say that it was the best year of my life—because the best is yet to come—it was nonetheless perfect. You have become a part of me. You are the best of me.

You taught me that it is okay if my client did not trust me at first, and was reluctant to disclose her business finances. You taught me that it is okay to be rejected at times when various retailers found me absurd. And amidst all this, you taught me that it is okay to accept the situations where nothing goes according to plan.  You gave me role models who helped me in every possible way throughout the journey. How I wish you knew how unconditionally grateful I am.  Above all, I respect you.

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A business overview of Kalapi’s client who owns a sari manufacturing business

I must mention that you have flooded me with many first time experiences. The first time I took the stage to present my business.  The first time to receive a letter from the CEO of Tupperware Brands. The first time to receive an invitation from the US Consul General to attend a tea party with our parents.  The list is never-ending.

Did I forget to mention something about ‘Orlando’?  Oh yes, I did.

Oh dear, you are helping me check off my bucket list!

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Global Links students meeting the US Ambassador to India

With you, I wish to be my most altruistic self, for I want to share you with others. I wish your existence to be known worldwide. I hope you touch the lives of many more, for good things are meant to be explored.

For me, you are my ultimate satisfaction, the best decision I have ever made, the perfect realization that I could do more for my society than just be a contributor to the nation’s GDP!

So yes, I literally want to be with you always and forever because, well, ours is still a better love story than Twilight! And with that I hope to make you even prouder.

From,

A Satisfied Soul