Skilled Samaritan Foundation by Gauri Gopal Malik
Skilled Samaritan Foundation is a social enterprise providing income opportunities to hundreds of women from rural communities in Muzaffarnagar district.
These incredible women (who previously never saw life beyond household chores) use their existing skill-sets to hand-make home, fashion and lifestyle products that are made from ropes made of industrial plastic packaging waste, textile waste and recycled cotton locally generated in the region.
The design approach at Skilled Samartian involves the sustainable use of local materials while considering India’s diverse ‘weave’ heritage, where we use the charpai style of weaving to handcraft our products.
Our aim is to make functional objects of at that make people slow down and reminiscence of a life that was simple, and hopefully this process will bring back the simplicity of about our shared past, while slowly composing the story of our future.
Skilled Samaritan was founded in 2012, where the team worked closely with local communities in Haryana and Uttar Pradesh, to successfully implement solar lighting solutions, creating an impact on almost 25,000 lives.
During this period, they spent a lot of time with local communities to understand innate and existing skill-sets of women which consisted of traditional weaving styles. Since January 2019, they have been channeling weaving skills of the women in the region, by bringing to them modern design sensibilities to create products that are well-designed and functional, while using waste materials and natural fibers found in and around the region.
"Skilled Samaritan Foundation started work in village Budhina Kalan, Muzaffarnagar District with 1 woman (Gauhar) in October 2018 who worked for us ’behind the closed doors of her home’ for almost 4 months till the next one joined us, since in their community women are discouraged to work. This WAS one of the major challenges we faced in increasing our women base. Today we have almost 102 women from 3 villages (Budhina Kalan, Budhina Khurd, Sujroo) who have broken barriers and are now financially independent and leading a life of respect as equals in their communities." - SSF
SSF identifies and supports women communities who have unique/undiscovered craftman skills but were never 'artisans' and work closely with them to create 'marketable products. They have started their work with communities living in Muzaffarnagar District, with a focus on skill-sets of charpoy weaving and macrame styles of weaving, that are native to this region.
"With more women approaching us for income and training opportunities on a daily basis, we aim to set up a Skill Lab(s) (Common Facility Centre) in the proximity of 5 villages, where each Skill Lab can house almost 350 women, who can work in a clean and safe working environment, close to their homes. With 235 villages in Muzaffarnagar District, we have the potential of creating income opportunities for over 1 million employable women.. and that is just the beginning!" - SSF
Skilled Samaritan provides training, workshop facilities and designs from in-house designers, to develop high quality premium home décor and fashion accessories that are marketed to an urbane and global audience, using online and offline sales channels. Most of these products are made from waste/salvaged textiles and multi-layer industrial packaging waste so the products are sustainable in nature, thereby encouraging responsible production and consumption patterns, thereby strongly contributing to a circular economy.
About the Founder: Gauri Gopal Malik
Gauri Gopal Malik founded Skilled Samaritan (SSF) in 2012 after she quit her job as an investment banker at Deutsche Bank; being numbed by numbers coupled with her personal frustrations of being surrounded by educated and talented women in her home-town, Muzaffarnagar who lacked opportunities due to socio-cultural norms.
Studied at a boarding school since the age of 6 with extensive work in experience in London, Tokyo, Peru and Geneva; she came back to India to convert into reality her belief that India’s flair is in the hands of its women.
She’s all about the simplicity of life, India’s heritage and earthiness while empowering women; all that come naturally to her. Her aim is to reference these notions in her work to develop functional objects that are a mix of nature and design.
‘I get better at what I do when I work hard, which is when I am at my best!’ - Gauri Gopal Malik