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Colourful pieces of fabric mark the entrance, beautifully cut dresses scattered, go inside, and you will probably find her working on a sewing machine – Saranya, the girl who makes pretty outfits and plays Fairy Godmother to many a Cinderella in her locality in Pondicherry. She too had once waited for her very own fairy… on days when she had to work as a daily labourer to support her family, or the time when she had to abandon her studies. This is her story.
Saranya’s life was no fairy tale. A daily wage labourer married to another; her life was spent bringing up her children and reminiscing about an abandoned dream of becoming an entrepreneur. Then she learnt about the Prabhat Labour Net Livelihood Centre, an initiative under Hindustan Unilever Limited’s Prabhat programme that aims at imparting livelihood skills in communities in which the operates.
The dying embers of Saranya’s entrepreneurial dreams rekindled, and she enrolled in a tailoring course in the year 2017. What followed were days filled with learning how to stitch clothes and understanding how to run a business. With single-minded focus and determination, Saranya learnt how to become an entrepreneur.
By June 2017, her long-lost dream had become a reality. She had set up her own business. “Ideas that the trainer had given me to attract customers are very useful. I have put up a placard containing customer testimonials which is helping my business in a big way”, she says.
Today, Sharanya has a sprawling tailoring business. Her orders are overflowing, so is her home with happy customers. So much so, that recently, she had to take a loan to expand her business. She now saves as much as Rs 8,000 every month – a sum that the daily wage job she had earlier couldn’t give her.
HUL’s Prabhat’s Livelihood Centre is Sharanya’s fairy Godmother, and she has, in turn, become one for her community encouraging people to take the first step in improving their livelihoods.
Project ‘Prabhat’ (meaning Dawn in English) is, a Unilever Sustainable Living Plan (USLP) - linked programme, contributes to the development of local communities around HUL’s key sites including manufacturing units.
According to HUL, the key focus areas of ‘Prabhat’ are: Enhancing Livelihoods, Water Conservation and Health and Hygiene. Prabhat has directly benefited over six and half lakh people as of December 2016. Prabhat operates over hundred livelihood and outreach centres offering over 20 courses. Over 17,000 people have been successfully certified, and over 12,000 people have already been linked to employment opportunities.