This is the final part of a 3-part series. Read part two here.
Women’s Economic Empowerment
“When you empower a woman, you empower her entire future generations.” This has been the major reason for I Create’s focus on working with women.
Working with over 80 NGO partners throughout India, I Create has created over 1400 women entrepreneurs. Its focus group has been widows, abandoned women, tribal and the poor in rural areas. These women have become amazing role models for other destitute and disadvantaged women.
In one of the I Create stories picked up by New York Times a year ago, Sudha, a young lower middle class woman who was frequently beaten brutally by her in-laws for not bringing dowry, was on the verge of committing suicide until she attended I Create’s women’s entrepreneurship training program. She not only became a successful entrepreneur, but developed such self-confidence, that she is now invited to women’s groups as a guest speaker!
There are many NGO’s that offer programs for women in India but these organizations are coming to I Create in droves in order to add the I Create’s entrepreneurship module to their program. As Mahatma Gandhi said. “If you have a good cause, people pop up from the pavement to join you.”
Sudha at a women’s workshop
I Create Inc. (www.icreateincorporated.org), is a 501 C 3 non-profit corporation with the objective of providing a practical grassroots entrepreneurship program for the rural and urban youth and women in India as a solution to the widespread unemployment. Its program partner is New York-based Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship (www.nfte.com).
I Create received the best social enterprise award from the US Indian American Chamber of Commerce in 2008.
Lukman, the winner of the 2010 I Create National Business Plan competition, said time and again that the NFTE-I Create entrepreneurship program transformed his life. He now felt empowered and had something to look forward to. He would become a job creator rather than be one of the millions of educated unemployed.
Lukman, who comes from a poor Muslim family living in a village in Northern India, is the first in his family to go to college. In his college, Agarwal College, one of the teachers, a NFTE-I Create trained Entrepreneurship Trainer, Dr. Anjana Tandon, started an Entrepreneurship Cell. Even though they had to pay a small fee to join the Cell and participate in the NFTE-I Create Entrepreneurship program, kids queued up to join it because it gave them tools to start their own business and it gave them hope. Agarwal College is primarily for low income youth and is subsidized by the government in order to attract poorer segments of society to attend college.
Lukman’s village has dirt roads, no running water and no electricity. His father, like his grandfather and great grandfather were carpet weavers. After modern carpet mills started making machine made carpets, his father could no longer get any work. They became very poor.
But Lukman dreamed big. After he won the National Business plan competition in Mumbai and went to New York to participate in the Annual NFTE Gala Entrepreneurship Event, he became more determined than ever to make his business plan a reality. He plans to start a unique Senior Citizen Center cum child care center where the seniors have an opportunity to be with happy, cheerful kids full of energy and kids have “grandparents” to tell them stories and teach them about life. He is in the process of getting a seed money loan from a local bank.
Lukman’s story and his award to go to New York to attend the NFTE event inspired the public imagination so much that his story was covered in all the national newspapers and the local TV. US embassy staff read the story and phoned Lukman’s teacher, Dr. Anjana Tandon, and told her that getting a US visitor’s visa would be no problem for Lukman. Considering how hard it is for a young, single man to get a US visitor’s visa, this was nothing short of a miracle.
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