KATHMANDU, Dec 28: When the earthquakes struck Nepal in 2015, a group of youths from SAATH, a non-governmental organization, became active in providing the survivors with succor. They provided relief materials not only in Kathmandu but also in Sindhupalchowk, Kavrepalanchowk and other major quake-hit districts. The immediate relief project soon came to an end, but many survivors were still struggling to get back on their feet in terms of economic stability.
In July of 2015, with the remaining funds and a motive to help, SAATH under the leadership of Executive Director Kritishma Karki started a pilot project Danfe with five women from Sindhupalchowk and Rasuwa. Danfe is a now clothing store that sells pre-designed clothes and also offers custom designs. Danfe largely deals with casual and party-wears for women, but they also have a section for kids’ and men’s wears.
The team started by giving a six-month vocational training to the local women of Sindhupalchowk and Rasuwa. The women were trained to make bags and women’s wears like jackets, among others. The products were later sold online and at local events in Kathmandu, from where they started garnering appreciation.
Impressed by the initiative and its impact on women’s lives, the Development and Peace (Caritas Canada) approached Danfe team as a benefactor to extend their project on a larger scale. Hence, they started giving 10-month training with the similar module to 30 other women from Sindhupalchowk, Kavrepalanchowk and Makwanpur from January, 2016.
“For the training, we selected women between the age of 18 and 25 years who were economically as well as educationally backward. Our aim was to empower those women by making them independent. We brought them to Kathmandu, gave them training primarily on tailoring, management and leadership skills, and conducted confidence building exercises to ensure that they will continue to work after the training,” shared Kritishma.
By the end of 2016, Danfe— was launched at Jhamsikhel, Kathmandu. The shop comprised products that were made by the trained women. Danfe not only promotes and empowers young talent within their organization, but also has given space to many individual entrepreneurs and helped them sell jewelries made out of beads and knitted woolen sweaters.
“Often times when people enter the store, they question if the products are Nepali or not. All the products we sell are made in Nepal, but the fabrics are not necessarily Nepali. We want to spread a message that ‘made in Nepal’ items are not limited to khaki and dhaka products, one also has to consider the effort and skills behind the products,” added Kritishma.
Meanwhile, the team did another set of eight-months training with 19 women from the same districts and with the same module. “From each training batch, few women have stayed and are helping in the production in Kathmandu, and those who returned home are also not unemployed. Some are working on their own shops, some in other organizations, while some are working with us through home-based working model,” Kritishma added.
Danfe’s logo is attached to each of its products and their in-house designer Manis Joshi makes sure the final products are ‘simple, trendy yet easy to make and comfortable to wear’. As a next step for the store, Danfe plans to soon expand their collection for men and kids.