Savita is all set to start her own tailoring shop in Mysuru. “I underwent two courses — tailoring and as a beautician — for just ₹1,000. Elsewhere I would have had to shell out ₹15,000 for tailoring and ₹20,000 for doing a beautician’s course,” she says. Rashmi, another beneficiary, is now computer-savvy. “I can send mails, browse the internet and type letters,” she says.
Around 1,500 underprivileged women in Mysuru are now entrepreneurs running micro enterprises such as small tailoring houses, beauty parlours and computer data processing centres; 500 more are gainfully employed in similar offices or do part-time jobs, thanks to a vocational training project being run by RC Mysore West, RID 3181, for the past 17 years.
“We have a clear policy to empower women and create sustainable livelihoods and our projects are focused on building self-confidence in them,” says club secretary D K Dinesh Kumar. Many of these trained women have also formed self-help groups.
The club has set up the Paul Harris Vocational Training Institute in Dattagalli, a residential locality in Mysuru and imparts courses in tailoring, fashion designing, embroidery, beauty care, paper bag-making, basic computer operations and spoken English. The duration of each course is six months. “Earlier we were offering free training, but the drop-out rate was heavy. People didn’t realise the value of these courses. So now we charge ₹1,000 a course,” he says. Each batch accommodates 30 women.
The club maintains a database of the students and helps in their placement or to avail loans from banks for setting up their own venture. The Rotarians also sponsor sewing machines for women from poor families. An orientation course in marketing is also given to women who plan to start their own enterprises.
The institute’s monthly expenditure is ₹2 lakh. “We get ₹60,000 as fees and the balance is met from generous contributions from our members and other philanthropists.”
The event, where students are given certificates, is a gala one, where members of the Inner Wheel Club of Rotary West organise rangoli, a fashion parade and cookery competitions and the trainees showcase their talent in various cultural programmes.