Empowering Women Through the Pratham Vocational Training Programs

Pratham 1in

HOUSTON: Thirty-one-year-old Manisha was determined to not let anything get in the way of her dreams. Taught to be satisfied with being a good daughter, wife and mother, Manisha longed for more. “Ever since I can remember, I wanted to work and earn money, but I had no skills,” Manisha says while reminiscing on her past. “I felt like all I was good for was cooking and cleaning.”

Manisha frequently attended wedding parties in her cramped neighborhood of Vashinaka in Mumbai. She was struck by how beautiful and made up all the women were, so she inquired about their makeup. Through their replies, she came to the understanding that women in urban centers could now afford to spend money on professional beauty services.

So what if she didn’t have the skills? She could always learn them. With the support of her husband and children, Manisha enrolled in a nearby Pratham vocational training center for a 3-month training program.

It wasn’t easy to kickstart her business. Right after they decided to open her beauty parlor, she and her husband lost their savings due to a car accident. Her husband escaped unscathed, but the other man had serious injuries. “We spent it all without thinking twice because we wanted to save his life,” she says.

With what little they had left, they decided to take the risk and move forward with the parlor regardless. And it paid off. Manisha is now managing the household on her own. “Even if I manage to make Rs. 200 (~$3) every day, I can meet our minimum household expenses,” she says tearing up.

Today, her life is dramatically different. What was once her living room is now her very own beauty parlor. She identifies herself by the word “Entrepreneur” before “daughter,” “wife” or “mother.”  Manisha also wants to become a trainer one day so she can change the lives of women like her who have little formal education and cannot leave their houses to work outside. “Everybody thinks women are only capable of taking care of kids and cooking. But we can do so much more.”

Manisha received financial support of Rs. 30,000 ($450) from Pratham to set up her own beauty parlor. When asked how she felt when she received the funds she said, “Aisa laga ki zindagi shuru ho gayi ab toh (It felt like my life has finally started).”

The Pratham Houston Holiday Luncheon and Fashion Show directly supports entrepreneurs like Manisha.  This years Luncheon and Fashion Show will be on Friday, December 4th at 11:00 AM at the Junior League of Houston.

If you would like to join us and help enable women in India reach their potential, visit us at www.prathamusa.org/events or contact us at 713-774-9599.