The Magic Carpet

Rubina Mazher is one such participant of the 8th batch of SEOP in Hyderabad, whose idea gained ground and took shape while she was doing the course with CSIM. Rubina’s Magic Carpet project is about empowering economically backward women of the Muslim community without disturbing their cultural ethos. She chose to adopt a strategy that will help build trust among the community and then deliver the goods.

Rubina’s firm conviction that women are agents of change for future generations, led her to start SAFA Society targeting Muslim women in Hyderabad. A personal insight of the dynamics of the community helped her to crystallize intervention plans for these women.

Magic Carpet is a project that provides economic support to families below the poverty line by introducing a work-from-home model. The women are taught embroidery and tailoring and produce mats, bags, pouches and dresses from their homes. 225women have been trained and 52of them are part of the SAFA core production group who has started the production. SAFA provides market liaison support to sell these products. Rubina actively networks with professional design institutes to offer training to these women, which makes their work elegant and professional. SAFA is adapting the MOVE program -Market Oriented Value Enhancement program-that has been successful in Karnataka, to motivate the trained women towards entrepreneurship.

“Any skill training given without the value addition of motivation, vision setting and market orientation is a waste of NGO resources. Even our Henna/tattoo design team of young girls customizes their craft and are now armed with a design book and rate card,” says Rubina.

The Magic Carpet project is about getting the women to do value addition on handloom mats sitting in the house. The carpet is used predominantly for religious purpose and the profit earned by its sale is shared with the women. The earned income is channelized towards the education of the girl child in the family. This two-pronged strategy helps in addressing the problem of today as well as the future. Besides, as the women of the house need not have to go out to earn that income, it fits well within the community’s norms. As she contributes to the family’s income, her respect and self-esteem is bound to grow which will help her in taking bolder and progressive decisions for the family.

The product chosen is extremely sensitive and attractive which is sure to appeal to the religious sentiments of the community. The carpets are targeted for the prayers in local mosque, exports, and as corporate gifts. Rubina is working toward seeking support from funding agencies and corporate houses for taking the initiative forward. As it has an income component integrated in the enterprise, she envisages making the project sustainable in a period of two years.

“Over a period of two years we are also producing yoga/prayer mats which are now designed by a NIFT designer. Besides, we also make unique jute and other cotton products too,” adds Rubina.

Realising that education is a tool for sustainable development of children SAFA has launched two programs and two projects. Roshni club is a weekly club based activity program for women to educate them on common diseases, women’s hygiene, and low cost nutrition. Awaaz -an interactive and comprehensive program for children on health, hygiene, sanitation, interpersonal relations and general awareness. As the dropout rate amongst Muslim girl children in very high, she has launched ‘Neenv Project’- a sponsorship program to ensure continuity in education for the vulnerable children. Till date, around 140 children have benefited from these programs.

Rubina is currently working on starting an online and stand alone store for the SAFA products in Hyderabad. She proposes to launch a sanitary napkin unit to generate income for 20 homes. She also plans to reach out to 250 girl children and ensure that they do not drop out from schools. Ready for launch on 1st of May 2011 is a campaign called ‘Bleed Green’ based on promoting environment friendly carry bags at retail outlets. The main objective of this campaign is to create an income generating activity for 20 women (who sew the bags) and add no to plastic them.

A true social entrepreneur indeed, Rubina wants to replicate her model in many slums of Hyderabad and in other cities too!