Our journey began in the year 2003. Mrs. Chinni Swamy had moved to Purkal in 2001 and conditions of the women of this area were beyond the pale which impelled her to start a subsistence program for them that not only served as a source of income but also boosted their worth in their own eyes as well as in the society. By earning decent wages their status in the family and the community improved.
In the early years, cooking was the only skill common among women so a project was started where the women produced namkeens(Indian savory snacks). Although it was a great success initially, for various reasons the project failed. Undaunted, she started exploring alternate avenues to help the women.
In the absence of an ethnic craft that could be used to earn, she decided to train them to develop skills for the crafts of patchwork, applique, quilting and embroidery. Thus training and skill development became an integral part of this project. The ladies go through a six months training session before being transferred to a self-help group.
On it’s outset, Stree Shakti was a division of the Purkal Youth Development Society (PYDS) and was ably managed by it’s directors. They helped nurture this division by providing working capital, equipment and infrastructure.
Our products were first exhibited in Gurgaon in 2007. This exposure helped Stree Shakti comprehend the market and expand it’s product range. Baby quilts, cushion covers, bags, pouches etc were designed and added to the product range thereafter.
Initially, the project functioned from the residence of Mrs. Swamy. In 2008, PYDS helped it move into a new building in their campus. This building was possible mostly because of a generous donation by Late Shri Manoj Swami.
In November 2010, Stree Shakti got a new identity when it was spun off from PYDS as a separate Society. Purkal Stree Shakti Samiti (PSSS), as it is now called, continues to work form the PYDS campus in a comfortable, hygienic and airy building owned solely by them. In 2015, a new outreach centre was inaugurated in village Jharipani.
The number of beneficiaries has presently grown to 178. They have been organized into 10 self-help groups (SHGs). All these SHGs are independent economic entities working under the umbrella of PSSS. They benefit from joint purchases, design development, organization management and marketing initiative of PSSS. Training goes on in the various aspects of their business. Apart from the craft skills, the society helps the women acquire skills in retailing, designing, marketing and entrepreneurship with the intention of making the women independent business managers in the future.