CNI SBSS Garment Unit at Kodoli Village, Kolhapur

 “Working at the Garment unit has been a fulfilling experience. Being part of the fascinating world of textiles has always been my dream…” says Radhika Nitin Kolekar

“हे माझे प्रेम आहे जे मला स्वातंत्र्याचा वेध देते” (This is my love which gives me a sense of freedom) says ­­­­­Radhika, pointing to a sewing machine that stands in midst of frills of colorful cloth pieces at the Garment unit at Kodoli village, Kolhapur.  “You can make any type of clothes using this wonder machine,” she adds, with pride.

On the new Jack machine, Radhika transforms luscious layers of cloth into various garment designs and other cloth utility items each day.  She has been doing this for the past year and has stitched more than 40,000 yards of cloth to make gowns, dresses, stoles, face masks etc.

Radhika is a native of the Icchalkaraji village of Hatkalangale Taluka of Kolhapur district in the state of Maharashtra. Ichhalkaraji is famous for textile manufacturing in western Maharashtra. Radhika has spent her childhood with her sister under the love and care of her father. Deprived of love of her mother at a very young age (she left the family when she was just 4 years old), her father became her world and a go-to confidant. She fondly recalls dressing herself up with small pieces of cloth creatively donned on herself. “I used to love dressing up myself, and also my friends,” says Radhika with a twinkle in her eyes as she remembers her childhood.

Radhika’s love for fashion and clothing grew because of her father. Her father worked in the textile mills. A trip to the mill occasionally was no less than an outing for little Radhika. Thanks to her father who every now and then took out time to satiate her curiosity by answering her questions related to the textile field. Both the siblings grew up as time passed. Radhika’s sister was married off early but sadly she got separated due to the hardships of a challenging marriage. During that time her father also became ill and due to old age was unable to go to work at the mill. She eventually took the reins and began working at the mill to feed three mouths. She was happy working at the mill and taking care of her family. But life had to hit her with another googly. Her father passed away due to ill health.

Radhika became an orphan but did not lose her enthusiasm to struggle for survival. She continued to work in the textile industry. But one day the sound of tailoring machines from the newly opened garment unit by CNI SBSS reached Radhika’s ears. She immediately got in touch with the CNI SBSS team and joined the training program.

10 electric sewing machines were purchased for the unit and a Master tailor was hired to give training. The garment unit provides three months of training to women in stitching and tailoring and helps them receive orders for mass production of different types of garments and products like face cover masks, travel bags, tiffin bags, ladies’ blouses, ladies’ purses, ladies’ gowns, Ghagaras, dresses, etc. The center has trained 20 women till now. At first, the labor charges were fixed at Rs. 200/-to 220/- per person per day but gradually they began earning Rs. 350/- to Rs. 400/- per person per day which amounts to Rs.10, 000-12,000 in a month. Among them, 10 women are working from home and 10 are working at the unit.

The setting up of the Kodoli Garment Unit helped to solve a local issue of employment for the community women. Their families were also motivated to send them to work. Respect for women in the family has increased and they are now able to devote time to learning and doing things that interest them. They are able to take better care of their families and engage in other community development work as part of SHG. In due course, the garment unit has not only become a place to work but also a safe place for the women to interact and share with each other.


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