Subhiwati's Story

Skillful Means Art Cooperative - Subhiwati's Story

A new and thriving handicraft cooperative in Lumbini, Nepal is redefining what economic development models look like. Bridges Between is on the ground, not just offering training, but on-going mentorship. Programs end when artist groups are truly independent and sustainable.

Subhiwati Pal has been making traditional baskets for many years but she has never been able to sustain a business from her efforts. Several years ago she registered her art cooperative as a legal business and runs it from her home which is far from any tourist area so she is not able to find many buyers for the work and the tourists she does meet do not always appreciate the colorful traditional styles.

Bridges Between saw the talent and enthusiasm that the women at the cooperative possess and so are hosting intensive week-long trainings in design and business management to give them skills to run and manage their own businesses. Now the weavers are creating baskets in functional shapes and modern colorways that international buyers are asking for.

Currently 24 women are making baskets at Subhiwati’s homebased workshop and in the beginning they had to carve out bits of time in between childcare, housework and fieldwork. But now, after earning income from a few sales last Spring, households are coming together to support the women’s works. Husbands are walking the kids to school and mothers-in-law are preparing the mid-day meal.

The community is coming together around this enterprise to create lasting positive change. Subhiwati used her earnings to pay for her daughter’s pharmaceutical training in Kathmandu and she is now employed in a medical clinic in Lumbini, contributing even further to the family income. And the upward cycle will continue because the women have used their income to pay children’s school fees and update aging agricultural equipment. Both of which will contribute to the lift out of poverty.

With your help we can take these trainings and support workshops to even more rural villages.
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