International conference on Women & Enterprise Development (WED)

Grooming the Groomers: NIESBUD professionals’ conference at ARCH College of Design & Business

In today’s rapidly advancing world, the importance of empowering and developing people to become skilled trainers and entrepreneurs is becoming more and more prevalent.

This is still a dream in underdeveloped and developing countries to groom the groomers & train them better. Organizations such as the National Institute for Entrepreneurship and Small Business Development (NIESBUD) and Ministry of Micro, Small, and Medium Enterprises (MSME) aim to help them by grooming and uplifting aspiring trainers across the world. They give them opportunities to gather and interact in forums, have workshops, attend training programmes etc. One such conference was held at ARCH College of Design and Business, Jaipur on 17th January 2020.

For this International conference on Women & Enterprise Development (WED) 32 participants from 31 countries such as Maldives, Afghanistan, Cuba, Vietnam etc. gathered at ARCH. The primary objective of this visit was to promote and develop Entrepreneurship which would help them become better trainers.
The day began with a Campus Tour. It was done in order to showcase the new technologies in the field of design, and their usage through ARCH students’ works as it would open their minds to new ideas. They were intrigued by technologies like 3D printer, wax injector, laser cutting machine, etc. and how creatively these were used to improve the quality of products. The delegates met with the students, who were brimming with excitement and were ready to show their work. Their interactions, which at first were mostly limited to offering feedback and appreciation, started to elevate. The atmosphere around them became livelier and the time they spent with the students began to stretch. It was getting evident that they were no longer looking at the young minds in front of them as students, but rather as professionals. In the face of their artistic designs, a flower of inspiration and creativity had begun to bloom.

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Moving into the conference, Ms. Archana Surana, Founder and Director of ARCH briefed the delegates on how she began ARCH 20 years ago as an example of her journey evolving as an Entrepreneur. She mentioned about the course she took in De Montfort University to get International exposure and learn about Entrepreneurship, and how the delegates reminded her of a similar group of 32 women from 22 countries she was a part of. To share her experiences and learnings in mentoring, Ms Archana created Women’s Mentor Forum, a platform for educating and empowering women. Taking forward the same cause she started conducting global mentoring walks in Jaipur. Some of the members of the forum came in as guest moderators including:

Ms Archana Jain, a Dietician & Nutritionist and also the Executive Chair of WMF.
Dr. Anita Bhandari, EMT & vertigo specialist.
Neelofer, who started her own creative enterprise.
Arti, an IT professional.

Expanding on the theme of global mentoring walk, Ms. Archana talked about how ARCH tries to bring people together in a space to build a healthy community. A community thrives with Networks and collaborations, to explain this approach projects like UKIERI, a collaboration between designers from UK and India; Goldozi a support program for artisans from Afghanistan and Kabul were discussed.
To further continue with this theme of bringing countries together and to also discuss the future of fashion, Ms. Archana Surana introduced Fashion Colloquia as the largest International fashion conference. This event is happening for the first time in India at ARCH, Jaipur; where researchers will be presenting their papers on responsible fashion and its future.

Coming back to the topic current global scenario of women and the social stigma regarding gender disparity, it was observed that people need to support, educate and inspire each other. Addressing this, Ms Archana Surana quoted, “Mentoring is a very strong tool in terms of changing mindsets.”
Trying to tackle this problem, the delegates took part in an interactive four thrust activity where each group was moderated by a Women’s Mentor Forum member; the groups themed as:

1. Social Impact– Creating small jobs and working in groups can lead to a greater Social Impact. Neelofer from the Women’s Mentor Forum asked how were the delegates making a social impact on the community and if not, then how can it be done. Majority of the delegates were a part of Ministries or worked with NGOs. Ellizebeth from Zimbabwe, a teacher for specially-abled children is working towards educating and facilitating them to go back to the society, whereas Safia from Oman is a teacher at a vocational college teaching them about professional and behavioural skills.

2. Mentoring– The discussion was on how these delegates can bring about a change in the community, by mentoring underprivileged and unaware people and informing them about their rights. Darlyn from Sierra Leone, a country in West Africa mentioned she has a facilitation centre where basic homemaking skills are taught. She is also associated with an NGO that takes maltreated women and children to the respective lawyers and policemen ensuring their justice.

3. Training and Development– The mentor asked participants to share their stories on how they have been working in their respective areas to train and develop women to start their own businesses. A woman from Zimbabwe shared how she has been training single mothers in matters of business so that they can make profits to sustain themselves. Some participants had attended and started various programmes, schemes, etc. to promote training technical skills in rural sectors. When asked if any have been working in promotion of the design industry, one of them mentioned that she has been training people in household skills like cooking, crafts and simple arts. She explained how they would only provide the minimum resources and these people ended up surprising her with their creative results.

4. Economic development– The economic and political state of a country majorly affects the citizens in regards to their lifestyle and career. Shirly from Sri Lanka mentioned that he works with the Ministry of Labour, and does it at a very primary level with students. He looks at students and provides them with career counselling based on their abilities. The Government of Sri Lanka is primarily focusing on agriculture which constitutes 70% of their economy and is planning to focus on generating economy through Industrial development, tourism, and skilled labour.

To share their learnings, delegates presented their outcomes in a creative way, which was the result of the impression in their minds after the campus tour at the beginning of the day. Despite having varied backgrounds they followed the design process of Ideating, Prototyping and Presenting. Being able to do this without having any prior design knowledge was an unexpected development. This clearly displayed that they had already evolved from this whole experience.

Coming towards the final stages of this conference, it seemed that all discussions guided to a common thought- that for growth and development of any country, there is a need for people to rehabilitate, come back to the community and get basic vocational training to which, John Minzel from Togo rightly concluded: “The bottom of development is Education.”