By Sofia Garcia, 4/1/2016

For ten days in March, I traveled to India with the International Business Honor Society from Florida International University (FIU) for a community service project. We worked with a women’s cooperative in Bandwhari, a village in the outskirts of Gurgaon near Delhi. In our free time, we also volunteered at a local government school.

The village, like most others in the region, is very conservative and traditional. Most women in the village are married by age 18 with child baring expectations soon to follow. The majority of women receive no formal education, therefore, limiting their work opportunities. Hence, the idea was to help these women create a sustainable business within the village that also adhered to and respected their traditional views.

Moroccan poufs were selected as the product for the project after much discussion. Not knowing how to make one myself, I practiced for several weeks in order to be able to teach the women how to make them. Once in India, we demonstrated how to create the patterns and properly stitch them together. We also taught them how to use Microsoft Excel in order to keep track of the simple finances of the business. The women are now selling the poufs in local Indian markets. In the future, the organization will also be helping the Bandwhari women with the exporting and selling of these artisanal items within the United States. The ultimate goal is to empower these young girls through business and also help them create additional income for their households. Yearly trips will continue to be made in order to help make this a sustainable project.

Sofia Garcia (FIU ’17) is an Operations and Customer Service Intern at WTDC. She is the recipient of a WTDC scholarship to FIU’s International Business Honor Society for the Indian community service project.