A Partnership Of Trust
Avanti Foundation has always maintained the philosophy of education and empowerment to enable development. Towards that aim, we entered into an understanding with Aftertaste, a fledgling organisation founded by Ms. Shalini Datta in March 2013 working on economic empowerment of women in the extremely disadvantaged slums of Malvani, Mumbai. Over the last 6 years Avanti Foundation has supported Aftertaste both in terms of financial support , organisational capability building, strategic road map and mentoring.
The financial support offered by Avanti Foundation was largely to enable expansion of Aftertaste in order to benefit more women and their families. As a result over the period of the engagement, Aftertaste has been able to impact 40 women beneficiaries directly and over 200 beneficiaries indirectly (family members). Prior to Avanti’s association, Aftertaste was working with 4 women in one of their homes. Today, Aftertaste has set up 2 independent workshops, in Malvani and Goregaon thus benefiting so many more women.
Capacity building thru strategy formulation and mentoring:
Avanti Foundation has been instrumental in guiding the founder of Aftertaste Ms. Shalini Datta in areas of people management, conflict resolution and motivating the founder to make Aftertaste financially sustainable and less reliant on external funding support. Under the able guidance of Mr. A.V Suresh, Founder Trustee of Avanti Foundation, since inception of this partnership Aftertaste has focussed on sales of the products made by the beneficiaries keeping the welfare of the women at the centre.
Over the last 6 years Aftertaste has participated in 300 plus corporate exhibitions and executed 350 plus successful corporate orders with technical assistance from Avanti Foundation and contacts/connects.
Continuous funding support on a need basis has enabled the beneficiaries of Aftertaste to always receive timely payments.
Number of beneficiaries of Aftertaste grew from 4 to 40 and Aftertaste expanded its work to cover 2 centers (Malvani and Goregaon, in Mumbai). Avanti helped with logistical support which was crucial in the growth by recruiting a delivery person.
Avanti Foundation was instrumental in guiding the founder to register Aftertaste as an independent entity. Aftertaste was registered successfully as a section 8 company in September 2019.
The most impacted by this partnership...
It’s a transformation in the lives of the 40 women who have been associated with Aftertaste, these women had never stepped out of their homes, they battle daily existential and social struggles and are deprived of opportunities of knowledge and exposure in a neglected disadvantaged low-income community. But today they have stepped out of their homes, developed social skills, general knowledge awareness of education opportunities for their children. They are transformed to Skilled Artisans, and equipped with economic means, knowledge and exposure are steering their families out of the vicious cycle of economic and social poverty.
Not only them, even their families and extended relatives have been impacted… close to 200 people have witnessed their lives transformed.
• Household income enhancement by 50%-100%
• 100% increase in educational spends by mothers
• 80% conduct digital transactions (earlier most did not even have their own bank accounts)
• Most have better-constructed homes and gas connection for cooking
• Interacted with corporates during exhibitions, the women traveled to and trained 350 women in Gujarat
Artisans Of Aftertaste
"I had never held a pencil before. I never went to school. When I joined Aftertaste, I learnt each skill from scratch, started travelling, going for exhibitions, and saw hundreds of women working in large offices, who were very well educated. That built my aspirations, and I felt even my daughters can get such opportunities if they were educated. Today both my daughters have graduated. My younger daughter is pursuing a Fellowship and elder daughter is a teacher. I faced a lot of resistance from my family while educating my daughters, but I was determined to not marry them off, but educate them and make them independent."
- Kamrunisa Bhat
Today Kamrunisaji’s daughters have broken the vicious cycle. Her son is in Junior college now, her elder daughter is a successful teacher and younger daughter as part of Gender Labs fellowship is building leadership in young school girls. They are role models for the other children of Aftertaste and motivate and inspire them to follow their dreams.
"A woman has so much inner strength she is herself not aware of. Life of a woman in an urban slum in Mumbai is ridden with daily hardships. Today I have changed that, and found my own identity with my work."
- Salma Begum Sardar
A homemaker mother of 3 children, Salma ji lost her husband in 2014 and within 1 night, her world came crashing. She was rendered completely helpless, physically ill and swamped in heavy debts living in an urban migrant slum( community) in Mumbai. After 6 months of illness and poverty, she summoned the courage to fight for survival. With help and support from her neighbour Rizwana ji and erstwhile member of Aftertaste, Salma ji joined Aftertaste in May 2014. Today Salma ji is in a leadership role at Aftertaste and manages her home single-handily with her earnings from Aftertaste. She has a bank account and a LIC policy. Her daughter has passed 12th grade board examination and placed in a part time job through Aftertaste. She is ready to pursue college now, her younger son is in the 10th grade now.
I have seen the women in Ambuzwadi just shackled with daily struggles and confined within the limits of their home, Our lives have come far from there. We work in a space which allows us to be. Never knew we could earn a livelihood using art and craft and have access to this alternate world. Before coming here, I had never done or seen this kind of work. I learnt paper craft here, and I learnt painting here. I feel very happy when we get large orders, go to big corporate houses for exhibitions. It gives me immense joy when our work is appreciated on such platforms.The largest order we executed was creating 9000 photoframes in just 12 days ! It seemed impossible in the beginning, but teamwork in such a great force. All of us adjusted on the personal front, worked till late night for 1 week continuously and pushed each other. We received support from our husbands and older children who helped us run the house that time and they understood the value of our work. We delivered the order on time. It was one of the most challenging and memorable weeks of our lives. There was no stopping us after that. We have never missed any timeline till now whether it is 1200 bags or 20 notebooks. We make everything by hand. Wecut, fold, paste, stitch, sketch, paint and pack. We leave no stones unturned to ensure we deliver on time and without any defect. I handle the additional responsibility of packing before all exhibitions and deliveries. And I have trained other members to do it as well. With my earnings from Aftertaste, I handle my family expenditure and take all critical decisions on the home front. My son was the first one in the family to pass the 10th standard. He is in junior college now and I have high hopes from him. I hope this work grows in leaps and bounds and several other women benefit from this.”
- Shehnaz Shaikh
“When I joined Aftertaste I was struggling financially and personally. I was not being able to fulfil the needs of my children or run the house properly. My husband is a daily wage labourer and he works for only few days in a month and he is epileptic. It was getting very difficult to sustain. I wanted to do something and change it. I was one of the first members to join Aftertaste and it was a steep learning curve for me to make even the first product: a paper bag. At the beginning I felt I won’t be able to do it, and wanted to give up so many times. But didi and my 2 other teammates pushed me and gave me the courage to keep trying. For the first time I was in a place where I was allowed to make mistakes and taught with love. I never knew I could earn a living by drawing and crafting. I started learning each skill but I liked drawing the most. After I started working here, I started paying off all our loans. I placed my youngest daughter in a private school. I became self reliant. I also bought a plot of land with my savings for our future. I have a come a long way since then. I look forward to coming to the office everyday and sharing with my friends at work. I feel mentally and physically relaxed at work and forget all my tensions here. My work gives me the strength to take personal decisions which was not possible earlier."
-Fatima Anis Shaikh
"I lost my husband 5 years ago and was left alone with a 3 year, old daughter. I had to go out to earn a living. But I was emotionally and physically not in a position to travel anywhere for work or exert myself physically. Under those conditions, I joined the Aftertaste family. I regained myself emotionally and physically and started earning and paying off my debts. I took up additional responsibilities. I travelled to different places for exhibitions and managed the week-long exhibition at the Mumbai metro station on my own, where I handled customers, and kept a tab of the sales My favourite product is the fairy lights. I craft all the fairy lights here. I have trained many new members in crafting different shapes and designing the fairy lights. Often people get attracted to our stall after seeing the lights and they appreciate it a lot. I feel very happy that time. This work has instilled so much confidence and knowledge of the world in me, that today I am able to conduct myself differently. I had a medical emergency, and I could surmount it only with my inner strength, and the support of the Aftertaste family. I have the confidence to ask questions, and command respect from people who would have dismissed me earlier. It has elevated my social position."
- Uma Halder
"“I was inclined towards art when I was a child. But I could never study beyond grade 2, and never received an opportunity to explore my potential. My marriage brought me to the sprawling slum of Ambuzwadi in Mumbai from my village. My daily life here comprised of completing domestic chores and dealing with the existential challenges,till I joined Aftertaste 6 years ago. It gave me the platform to find my potential and create my identity as an artist. I paint everyday, and sometimes I am amazed at my own creations. We have completed atleast close to 500 orders of handpainted products for different organisations over the last 6 years. The most memorable project was when we created 3 canvas paintings, 5 feet by 3 feet in size for an office in Mumbai. I along with my teammate went to deliver it ourselves and signed on the canvas. I was so proud to see my work up on the wall at the reception of such a reputed place. From being a woman in a slum in Mumbai where the respectable fear to come, to receive recognition and respect as an artist among educated people, I had never imagined we could ever receive such opportunities. I have 2 daughters and 2 sons and I pass on my creativity to them. I love what I do and earn a living from it. I am educating all my children using my earnings. I have travelled to rural Gujrat twice and trained 80 other women. It gives me immense joy to share my knowledge with others. I hope the way we have been able to come this far may several other women also find the way."