Normally, Anita Arya – knitting supervisor at Women on Wings’ business partner Kumaun Grameen Udyog (KGU) – would travel to knitting groups in the Kumaun hills region to check upon the designs and quality of knitted products. Instead, Anita used the corona lockdown period to stitch face masks. Fortunately, KGU’s stores were able to reopen their doors on Friday, June 12, 2020, so Anita can start resuming her regular tasks, obviously following local COVID-19 rules.
Turning from knitting to stitching
Anita Arya lives in Mukteshwar, a village in the Kumaun hills region in the state of Uttarakhand, and has been working at KGU for over fifteen years. A Women on Wings team met her while working with the KGU management in 2018, and was impressed by the young and independent woman. Anita went to school till class 12 and started working as a knitter for KGU at the age of 21. Five years ago she became trainer supervisor and she wants to excel in all that she does. During the corona lockdown, and being unable to travel, Anita took up stitching again, and made face masks which were sold.
Motivating other women
Unmarried by choice, Anita told the Women on Wings team in 2018 that she is extremely happy with her independency which allows her to travel to different knitting groups in the Kumaun region in Uttarakhand. Thanks to her job at KGU, Anita is able to provide for her family. She gained self-confidence and the courage to face the world alone, without a husband. She encourages other women to earn and attain a certain amount of independence. Now with the new phase in the corona lockdown, Anita looks forward to be able to visit the women knitters again to keep them motivated, while ensuring their knitted products meet all quality parameters.
Providing hill women income
Kumaun Grameen Udyog’s outreach gives a meaningful income to the rural families it is involved with. It ploughs back all profit into rural development activities. Through its range of products, KGU strives to give quality and a fair deal to both the customer and the rural producer. KGU products are sold under its brand name Kilmora, which include handwoven and hand knitted textiles, apricot skincare products, organically grown culinary herbs, cereals and spices, and fruit processed products such as jams, chutneys, and juices. Since December 2017, Women on Wings and KGU collaborate in their joint mission of creating more employment opportunities for women in the Kumaun hills region. Since then, the two social enterprises have regularly worked on various business topics to grow KGU to its next level.