Empowering Women through Jewellery Making Training: Helping Others Help Themselves

Happening Issue 111 Jan, 2011
Text by Nivida Lamichhane / Photo: ECS Media

N epali women need all the support they can get in order to achieve real independence – this is a statement that few people will argue with. And, while there are many who appear to be fulfilling this role in their own different ways, there are actually only a few that are truly making a difference. Business Service Centre (BSC) is one such organization.

Helping others to help themselves
Besides its many other programs, BSC has initiated a training program in jewellery making that promises to help a number of women to empower themselves through attainment of skills and economic upliftment. Jewellery making is a field in which Nepal, and particularly the Kathmandu Valley, has already gained fame both nationally and internationally. However, two things need to be kept in mind: one, there is danger of it being a lost art because of lack of interest in the younger generation, and two, the necessity to keep up with the changing trends worldwide in order to flourish.

This is where BSC steps into the picture to make a significant contribution in the most important areas of imparting training, conceptualizing design and finding markets for Nepal made jewellery. The organization has begun a jewellery making training program to interested women of Thecho VDC in Lalitpur District. Training is provided by master jeweller Chinikaji Tamrakar who at 75 years has a world of experience behind him. One must say that BSC couldn’t have found a better teacher in this demanding art form.

Additionally, BSC has teamed up with Mahaguthi, a leading handicrafts organization with popular retail shops in Kathmandu as well as a substantial market abroad. It promises to be a fruitful partnership and will surely assure that jewellery produced by BSC trained women will find their deserved market both here and abroad. What about the designs? Well, BSC has in its ranks some very talented designers from around the world. One of these is Spanish designer Sebastian Alcala who understands the international trends and has a keen eye for design. Sebastian has spent already a month with these women to teach them new techniques in making jewellery and new designs to meet the changing demands of the European market. He is the designated Products Development & Design (PD&D) consultant for BSC and will be coming often to share his expertise with BSC supported entrepreneurs here.

A good example of what is possible
Chandevi Mali is a 37-year-old single mother of two children aged 15 and 12.  She is one of the trainees at BSC. Here is her story in her own words. “My husband left me eight years ago. With zero income and no place to live, I decided to watch over my brother’s jewellery shop in his absence. My time there made me interested in the art of jewellery making. Seeing my interest, my brother decided to teach me the ABCs of the art.” But, things didn’t turn out as they expected.

Chandevi explains, “With no educational background and passing age, I was a slow learner. So, it didn’t last long.” Fortunately, at around the same time, she heard about BSC and its jewellery training program. She says, “Later, I heard of an organization providing training to women who were interested in working and making a living on their own. The organization was Business Service Center or, BSC for short. Under their sponsorship I received a two months training under the 75-year-old master jeweller Chinikaji Tamrakar.”

She says that she learnt to make simple designs and the confidence gained from this enabled her to engage herself in her brother’s workshop. Chandevi’s story has a happy ending. She says, “Nowadays, I run his shop even when he is not there and I am able to stand on my own feet and educate my children. Villagers who often ignored me and looked down upon me now ask me for suggestions regarding their business which makes me feel really good and proud. “

Well, looking at BSC’s enthusiasm coupled with its strong presence, one can surely look forward to many more such happy stories in the days and years to come. 

Business Service Centre (BSC)
BSC aims to assist and support disadvantaged and poor women to create and develop viable and self sustainable micro and small enterprises. It believes that by increasing women’s capacity for economic self reliance, the lot of Nepalese women can become better than it is today. BSC operates under the aegis of the Federation of Business and Professional Women Nepal (FBPWN) which is the local partner of Associazione Italiana Donne per lo Sviluppo (AIDOS Italy) and with the financial support of EU and other private donors. This refined pedigree and its strong backing actually means that BSC operates from a position of great strength and so, can be expected to do much more in the days to come.