Why am I fundraising?
I am seeking funds to enable my daughter and I to visit practitioners of traditional crafts and textiles, travelling through as much of the country* as we can afford to. We intend to identify a few craftspeople to whom regular orders from us at BEAD, will make a difference to their situation. Simultaneously, this trip will enable my fifteen-year old to see first-hand the wealth of expertise in this field and to factor this experience into her choice of further studies.
If her choices reflect her interests and a commitment to continue making a difference to others (see 'Background'), in time she can work to create an enterprise or influence policy to this end on a large scale. She may choose a role in sustaining traditional artisans, influencing incomes of the rural and urban poor, expanding the market for sustainable choices in clothing and other areas - the sky is the limit. She will be going into her final year of schooling in July 2015 and with her intelligence, openness to learning and compassion, such an experience will really be a game-changer.
*we have a wish-list of Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Andhra & Telangana, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Kashmir...
We are a mother-daughter duo and we started not-for-profit BEAD two years ago when Manini (the daughter) was thirteen - she is our in-house jewelry designer. I (Manjul) started with Rs.5000/- as investment in raw material and we have reinvested all surplus from sales into buying more stock and creating more work (and income) for more people. We now make jewelry (daily wear, hand-worked silver and semi-precious stones), stoles and skirts. Our tailors work at their homes; the jewelry is made at our home. We pay our people wages, bonuses and incentives, so our labour costs are comparatively high - reflecting our mission which is to create earning opportunities. The only way we can reduce costs is through wholesale purchases of material such as fabric. We want to do this directly from artisans so that our money goes to the creators. Our inspiration is Loren Eiseley's 'The Starfish Story'.
One major raison d'etre for BEAD has to do with my role as a parent. It is my belief that each person can be a change-maker and I want to expose my child to as many opportunities as possible, on different scales, to be one. The first person who worked for us was paid at the end of the day - we do that with new people to give them an incentive to come back - and what she confided in my household help the next day has stayed with Manini. The woman said that the amount (Rs.250/-) enabled her to buy rice, oil and potatoes and her family ate their first square meal in three days. It moved us and strengthened our resolve to make a difference in a small way at first and grow within our constraints. It has been a challenge to ensure quality and high wages and make each person a stakeholder. We are still very small but we have repeat customers and steady if not spectacular sales. The number of people we can help is limited only by how much we can sell. BEAD has the potential to grow and change many lives.
What do I plan to do with the funds?
The funds I hope to raise will go towards our journey.
We have located a unique travel company that will customize our interactions with traditional craftspeople, off the tourist track (Breakaway, at http://www.break-away.in/ ). We will likely travel without frills. Any surplus from our trip will go into BEAD. This trip is also intended to help us locate those craftspeople to whom orders from us will make a difference to their situation.
1. How do I know my money will go into what you say you will use it for?
I will get accounts audited.
2. Why can't you fund this trip yourself?
BEAD, at the present time, is too small to provide for the expenditure this ambitious undertaking entails. I'm asking others to pitch in and help us realize this trip. We not infrequently have people refuse the change from their payment for their purchases and receive donations of stock and cash, so we know there are people out there who care abou our mission and want to help us out.
3. Why do you have to travel to have your daughter learn what you say you want her to?
Many of her peer group have a sense of entitlement and focus on their wants. Manini's limited experience with BEAD and the kind of people we work with have influenced her realization that there is a world very different from that she is privy to. She has an innate interest in art and design, compassion and intelligence. My endeavor is to influence her artistic sensibilities and the social impact it can have - travel allows a first-hand glimpse of the kind of lives many creators of beautiful things are forced to lead by an increasingly uncaring market. This trip is also intended to help us locate those craftspeople to whom orders from us will make a difference to their situation.
4. Why should I donate my money to you when there are many pressing needs, indeed on Milaap itself?Well-known causes are able to mobilize many resources; yours will be one of many contributions and you may not be able to see a direct end-result that you can attribute to your intervention. When you donate to us, you can. How far we can travel is directly proportional to the amount we are able to raise - for instance, $50 means we can travel an additional day.
Update: The money we have raised so far will enable us to make our first trip in June: through the Southern Indian states of Karnataka and Tamil Nadu. We hope to raise more funds to be able to travel through the rest of India too.