Usha Silai Schools: Creating Opportunities in North East India

1NagalandBackground and Context: UIL has been successfully running the Silai School program in Nagaland since the year 2013. This case study is an attempt to record how the 10 Women Entrepreneurs from the 10 Silai Schools in Dimapur have successfully joined hands to start a Showroom Cum Sales Centre by mobilising support from the Nagaland State Social Welfare Board in Dimapur.

Presently, UIL is running 20 Silai Schools in the state. All the Silai Schools are in the districts of Kohima and Dimapur

The state is inhabited by 16 major tribes and a large number of smaller tribes. Each tribe is unique in character with its own distinct customs, language and dress

2nagaland(II) Main trends of Silai Schools in Nagaland

  1. Silai Schools have helped the economies of these 20 Silai School women entrepreneurs
  2. A positive enthusiasm is visible in the communities where the Silai Schools are operational
  3. Even the local district administration is aware and positive about the Silai Schools

Dimapur, which is the main commercial centre of Nagaland has 10 Silai Schools in the neighbouring villages (the other 10 being Kohima). For the State of Nagaland, MSS had conducted the Silai School training through the Training of Trainers (TOT) model, where 2 master trainers from the state were trained by UIL in Guwahati for a period of 7 days. One of the Master Trainers from Nagaland was an enthusiastic lady named Ms Thine Sekhose.

Thine, very successfully trained 10 women in Nagaland after having motivated them to start Silai Schools in the villages. In addition to being the Master Trainer, coach and mentor for these 10 village women, Thine is also the program coordinator for the local NGO called EDITI, which is monitoring the Silai Schools on a regular basis.

4nagaland(III) Spin-off effects of Silai Schools in Dimapur

One of the main problems that the Silai School teachers face is that once the number of learners have stabilised or if the teachers have completed the target of teaching 20 learners, they are enthused to do “something else” or “something big”. In Dimapur, the teachers wanted to sell their finished products and wanted to make a successful business out of it. However, since the Silai Schools are located in remote villages, not many people used to know or buy the finished products. Hence the number of customers was limited.

Gradually, the teachers, under the leadership of Thine Sekhose, planned to walk an extra mile to augment their income. They approached the Nagaland Social Welfare Department and appraised them about the Silai Schools and requested them for assistance to start a Showroom and Sales Centre in Dimapur. The Silai School teachers, planned that all the quality finished products that they create in the Silai Schools would be displayed and sold from the Showroom.

Happily, for the 10 women and Thine, the Nagaland Social Welfare Department  approved the proposal and agreed to support them by paying the monthly rent of about Rs 6000/- . Moreover they agreed to support the furniture and fixtures for the Showroom and a computer for their day to day work.

Therefore, the Showroom and Sales Centre, named as “Emergence” by Thine and her band of 10 Silai School Teachers came into operation on September 2014 at PWD Road, Midland, Dimapur.

6nagaland(IV) The Business Model of the Showroom and Sales Centre:

  1. The 10 Silai School women contribute to the centre, whatever products they make in the Silai Schools in the villages
  2. The finished products range from skirt-tops, soft toys, mobile pouches.
  3. The Silai School teachers have to contribute 5-10% of the profit for the maintenance and management of the centre
  4. Ms Thine has also started training centre on Sewing and dress making, soft-toy making and artificial flower-making centre. Traditional Bridal dress for wedding is also an especial item.
  5. Many people visiting Dimapur request for customised items and these orders are then completed at the Silai Schools by the teachers.
  6. The Centre has been named as “Emergence” by Thine and her band of 10 Silai School Teachers.
  7. This  EMERGENCE is evolving as a backward linkages initiative for the Silai School Products

The program has just started two months. There is an enthusiasm amongst Thine and her team. So far the response from buyers have been positive. Silai Schools are paving way for many opportunities for rural women.

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