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Michelle, from our Oasis India team has set up a prosperous social enterprise scheme for the women in Chennai. As an entrepreneur from Australia with a passion for sewing Michelle decided to channel her energy into supporting disadvantaged women through social enterprise. Helping them create and then sell bedclothes and pillow slips using traditional Indian sari fabrics.
Michele is particularly passionate about equipping these women with new skills because they come from a society where they are expected only to look after their families. The social enterprise is something that they can take ownership of: giving them a sense of self-determination.
Working tirelessly Michelle has established a really inclusive and effective group dynamic even with the challenge of a significant language barrier.
Michelle explained her motivation:
“About 20 years ago I read an article about women in India. I felt very deeply for them and I often wondered if God was calling me to be a part of the solution.
“The harsh reality is that so many of these women’s lives are filled with abuse. Many have been abandoned by family and forced to survive in terrible conditions without any kind of support network.”
The development of individual women in the team has also been key to the enterprise’ success. One of the women, Viji, has become a supervisor due to her exceptional sewing and leadership skills. This has given her an opportunity to develop new skills and be paid accordingly for them.
Michelle added: “My favourite part has been developing a relationship with the women. We don’t speak the same language but we still laugh together… Nothing makes them laugh like my clumsy attempts at speaking Tamil.
“These women shatter the limitations society has placed on them and fight to contribute. They are my heroes.”