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CARE India

Our role in
Saamuhika Shakti

CARE India works to provide waste pickers with the skills they need to pursue alternative livelihoods if they so desire.

What we do

To enable waste pickers to find alternative livelihood options - either within the waste management value chain or outside it. CARE India works to improve waste pickers' knowledge of saving money, opening bank accounts, learning basic computer functions and expanding their digital literacy. Many waste pickers have started small businesses using the skills they pick up at the training sessions.

How we do it

CARE India conducts three levels of life skills training - starting with soft skills, progressing to digital and financial literacy, and finally to entrepreneurship development. CARE India also helps waste picker communities, particularly women, form collectives and access government schemes created for small entrepreneurs.
Collectivization helps waste pickers develop leadership and management skills and interpersonal relationships, understand saving and investment, learn and explore government schemes and services that may benefit them, and apply as a group for loans that will help them set up enterprises.

Activities and impact

From the time the program began, until March 2022, over 4,000 waste pickers have been trained in the three life skills programs run by CARE India. 
After the training, participants have gone on to split their time between waste picking and pursuing alternative income sources, including selling vegetables and fruits,  creating upcycled handicrafts and baskets from easily accessible and available waste materials , making and selling herbal soaps/oils/perfumes, setting up grocery stores, tiffin and tea stalls, rearing goats, driving and joining other short-term courses like tailoring, crochet and toy-making.
Among CARE India’s most important interventions on the ground is helping women waste pickers from Self Help Groups (SHGs) and collectives.
What does collectivization mean, particularly for the women? 

1. Financial independence: Members of collectives put money into the common fund weekly, building a saving habit while ensuring they have a trusted place to borrow from - at low-interest rates - for small businesses they want to start or for medical/personal emergencies 

2. Government schemes: Many collectives formed at the community level and in dry waste collection centers have been recognized under the National Urban Livelihood Mission (NULM), which means they can open bank accounts and take loans both as a group and as individuals. Any collective registered under NULM is entitled to receive Rs 10,000 as handholding support immediately after opening the bank account, and after six months of operations, members can take loans of up to Rs 50,000 each. 

3. Leadership and management: The collective’s members decide the weekly saving amount, how often to meet, who keeps the books, and who is responsible for the money. They support each other’s business plans and even form enterprises together. In managing their collective, women teach themselves on the go about leadership skills. 

4. A space to call their own: A number of collective meetings, particularly those with only women members, provide them with a safe space where they can speak their minds without fear of consequences and judgment. CARE India uses this space to also talk about gender and gender roles.

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