Utkal Alumina empowers rural women for a better tomorrow

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Bhubaneswar: Utkal Alumina International Limited (UAIL), a unit of Aditya Birla Group, undertakes initiatives to ensure the welfare of the communities living in the project area and its periphery. Continuing its efforts towards inclusive development, UAIL has launched “Project Saksham”, an advanced training-cum-garment manufacturing unit at Tikiri in Rayagada district to help unemployed rural women earn a sustainable livelihood and become self-reliant.

Launched in February 2015, the project imparts training to 32 underprivileged women living in the plant’s periphery villages. With 30 Juki industrial sewing machines and six specialised machines, trainees have already received six months’ training on operation and product development, including quality control, to cater to the market demand. During the training period, participants learnt basic machine operations along with cutting and stitching dress materials such as petticoats, tops, kurtis, chudidar, salwar kameez, skirts, etc.

The commercial production of garments, mainly school uniforms for institutional sales, has begun. In a short period, the products manufactured in the unit have been appreciated in the market. With concerted efforts in marketing, the unit received orders from M/s Utkal Alumina International Limited, Essel Mining and Industries Limited, Aditya Birla Skills Foundation – Raipur, Jawahar Navodaya Vidyalayas, Kasturba Gandhi Balika Vidyalaya, Saraswati Shishu Mandir, Ekalavya Model Residential Schools, Aditya Birla Public School, Great News for Asia Public School and M/s Lundrupali Khadi and Silk Weaving Samity, Bargarh. Enthused by the tremendous response, the women are now developing their skills in creating designer clothes with the help of a pattern cutter. Once the finesse in designer clothes is achieved, the women will be linked to large-scale garment trading units.

Product positioning initiatives like labelling, name tag preparation and improvement in the packaging of finished products have been taken up to cater to market demands. The company is planning e-marketing promotion in the future. Furthermore, a retail counter has been set up in Nuapada to boost forward market integration.

During his visit to the centre, Mr. Rakesh Mishra, AVP – Admin, Land & CSR urged the trainees to put their best foot forward in learning the advanced skills required to produce designer clothes. Reposing faith in the trainees and trainers, Kumar is confident the products from the unit will certainly carve out a niche for them in the market. He said, “This initiative will empower and transform the lives of the rural women for a better tomorrow.”

While interacting with the trainees, Mr. N. Nagesh, Unit Head and President, UAIL said, “The rate at which the trainees are acquiring skills, I am sure they will produce quality products for the market and earn substantially to supplement their family income. This is going to be a path-breaking CSR initiative for us.”

Trainees in the garment manufacturing unit consider the unit a boon, as it’s fulfilling their dreams. Sarojini Majhi, aged 23, from Semiliguda village, chooses to see the bright side of life despite facing hardships. Due to her low educational qualifications and skills, along with hearing impairment, it was difficult for her to find a suitable job. Sarojini says, “I felt incompetent to work and earn money for my family. But after joining Saksham at Utkal Alumina, I have gained a lot of skills, which boosted my self-confidence. I am now able to stitch clothes and support my family. I feel blessed to be a part of Saksham and would like to continue my journey here.”

Nilum Benia, aged 30, lives in Kampor village with her husband and three children. Her husband is an autorickshaw driver, whose income is insufficient to educate their three children. She joined the garment production unit in February 2015, and her skills and productivity improved with time. Nilum states, “Earlier, I was recognised as someone’s wife or daughter, but today I have my own identity. I can now stitch clothes and earn extra income.” Her husband and her village treat her with respect as she’s a working woman. She adds, “With Saksham’s support, my mindset has improved and I can provide a better life for my family. My husband is proud to see me working with dignity.”

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