Now that SNF is really taking hold – not only are we finally registered as a trust and a business, but our center has been in steady operation since opening. It is so hard to keep things going – but we are doing it! Now, we need to up our game and keep our quality consistent, and our orders coming. That being said, never more than now could we use your support to further our vision of a sustainable enterprise. Donate to keep our sewing machines going, and to help us pay for the A/C that we will keep the women in decent working conditions!
Recruiting skills and getting started
Over the past two weeks we have successfully conducted a trial of monitoring and evaluation! Surprisingly, it has gone really well. Our goal was to deepen the women’s understanding of their own work and what standards are expected in a very competitive market. A friend named Anika, who has previously worked with UNDP and SEWA Bharat, is seriously supporting us with some pro bono M&E consulting. Anika and Aastha, a distance volunteer, the field staff, and I have created a M&E form broken up into sheets spread across 2 pages for each woman. There are columns that related to the various aspects of production and quality: production rate (full or half day and how many pieces), shape accuracy, neatness of finishing, placement of details (buttons, tags, etc), cleanliness of the piece, and consistency of one woman’s samples. These simple categories help the women focus on important details to ensure marketable products. (Anika describes the session below).
The pilot monitoring session was carried out by Kristin and Monika, the field manager. To me this means that 1. the M&E form that we designed was actually easy enough to use and 2. without my presence, it was clear enough to be implemented by the people who need to carry it forward. When we started the evaluation, we first explained the book to the women, the different categories, and our goals and hopes of what they will get out of it.
Imagine a large room, painted pink, with sunlight light streaming in from one window. There we sat, 20 in total with powerful common thread: we are all dedicated women workers. The evaluation pieces were sample ‘card holders’ (for business cards, metro cards, etc) that the women needed to prepare for a large order (more on that soon!). One woman in the center, let’s call her Flora, is extremely gifted in stitching. Her command over hand work, using a sewing machine, and accuracy in design is remarkable. We used Flora’s piece as a model to demonstrate to the other young women what excellent quality looks like.
Each women held her piece in comparison with Flora’s and first was asked to highlight one or two good points of her work. Asking women to do this first resulted in nervous laughter, shyness, and comments such as ‘how should i judge my own work?’ and ‘nothing is good about it’. We encouraged them to use the categories define in the evaluation sheet in order to consider their own work. Although uncomfortable at first, the women’s sense of pride and also of their own need to progress was palpably emerging. Furthermore, these questions were mostly asked by Monika, and Kristin and I took the backseat.
After looking at the strengths, the each woman noted 2 points that she could improve upon. Finally, we had the group pitch general scores of how they would rate the quality of the work in comparison with Flora’s. After each category we gave out the marks that Monika and Kristin had decided upon. Then, of course, everyone clapped! There was a lot of pride in the room, and also a lot of self-awareness. That quality would have to be learned from hard work.
In the end we asked girls what they thought.
‘Didi, we can learn a lot from this.‘
‘We like this, because we will get better.’
‘Its good to see where I am good and where I can improve.‘
‘This will definitely help us sell!‘
Me? I couldn’t be happier with the fact that they even sat through the entire thing! Their feedback was so relieving and rewarding. I mean, managing monitoring and evaluation doesn’t exactly make you best friends. But the women not only saw the value in monitoring and evaluation, but actually demonstrated a critical awareness of their own work, a better understanding of marketing challenges, and an ability to support one another with excellent advice and insight.
SNF M&E Pilot Book
SNF M&E Pilot Session 1