Self-Employed Women’s Association 2014 – Third Week

This week at SEWA has been a fascinating learning experience. The SEWA unit I work for is called the SEWA Manager ni School. Like its name says, it provides the members of the organization basic lessons on different aspects of business and the economy that will help them better manage their micro enterprises. The difference between this school and any other management school is that its target audience includes literate, semi literate as well as illiterate women. All of them, however, are still the primary sources of income for each of their households through various forms of economic activity.

One of the modules that is taught to the SEWA members is about financial management. Because the module was created some time ago, my task is to give insight regarding what topics are still relevant or not, propose new ones and make the respective changes. Once this is done, I will include it in a larger more comprehensive micro enterprise development module, which I will also review and modify. In order to better understand how these modules work, I was able to sit on one on Monday and Tuesday. I was really glad to meet the women upon whom the module has a direct impact. Because many of them are illiterate or semi literate, the classes are required to be very interactive and include activities such as role playing and various games. I was amazed at how quickly these women were able to work as a team without having met each other before.

Interns at private temple AkshardamThe sessions are normally given in Gujarati which is the local language. However, Salmaben, the instructor, asked them to speak in Hindi so that Gunjan (my coworker) could translate to me. I could not express enough how grateful I was for the extra effort they put forth just for me.  One of the words I learned, together with the SEWA members was “Udyogsahsikta.” In Hindi, this means “entrepreneur,” but the beauty of it is that “Udyog” means business and “sahskita” is related to courage. Together we learned that to be an entrepreneur, one must be courageous and accept all the risks that come with starting a business.  As we, the interns, approach the halfway point on our journey, we could not be more amazed at how much we have learned and grown as travelers, business students, and people. I cannot wait for what the next three weeks have in store for us.

-Su Lau