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SEP 2017
INDIA

I was a Sari: Empowering disadvantaged women through recurring income opportunities

"From a simple payment reminder to a very specific advice regarding European Union regulations we know that we can always count on iProbono. For our young enterprise, such a support made and will continue to make the difference."

Stefano Funari

Managing Director, 2nd Innings Handicrafts

'Women make up half the world's population and yet represent a staggering 70% of the world's poor." - The Global Poverty Project.

Women have to face gross inequalities and injustice right from birth, and even more so if they live in poverty. What makes matters worse is that women get much fewer opportunities compared to men to lead a financially independent life. In India, only 13.9% women are employed in the urban sector, and 29% in the domestic and agriculture sector. Even here, a majority of them are exploited through low wages, irregular income, and unhealthy work conditions.

There is a pressing need to address this issue which the government and civil society organisations are trying to do, with varying degrees of success. However, their interventions continue to fall short of what is needed. In such a scenario, social enterprises have become a viable way forward. Due to their sustainable and self-sufficient model, social enterprises can meet some of these needs in a developing country like India.

I was a Sari (registered as 2nd Innings Handicrafts) is one such social enterprise, formed in 2013 and operating from Mumbai, with a mission to empower disadvantaged Indian women by providing them skill-based training and recurring income opportunities. The project aims to strengthen and improve the socio-economic conditions of disadvantaged women in India by employing them as artisans. It is a lifestyle brand offering a unique and premium line of upcycled fashion products made from beautiful Indian saris. While some of the items are sold in India, most are exported to Europe and the United States.

In the last one year, iProbono has been able to help I was a Sari on some of their key legal needs. In each of these cases, our lawyers from Mahindra and Mahindra’s legal team have helped the team at I was a Sari service these requirements. They are:

1. I was a Sari follows a lean structure in which most of their new collections designs come from independent designers. The design partners work pro bono and provide inputs like sketches, technical fact sheets and any other details required to turn ideas into final products.

Our lawyers helped draft an agreement between the design partners in order to specify the duties and rights of both parties.

2. As part of their reliance on a lean structure, production of I was a Sari’s products is externalised to NGOs that already run vocational training in tailoring and income generation programs. As the leading organisation providing stylistic direction and product design, I was a Sari sources all the materials, manages sales and marketing as well as supervisors, inbound logistics, and procurement. They distribute the materials to external production units and oversee quality control and outbound logistics.

The team of our pro bono lawyers helped draft an agreement between I was a Sari and their production partners to specify the duties and rights of each party.

3. Since I was a Sari exports a lot of its products to Europe, it was important to abide by European regulations. Hence, 2nd Innings Handicrafts required advice on compliance with REACH European regulations for production of up-cycled items. They wanted an assessment of the implications of selling up-cycled textile accessories to clients residing in EU countries. Along with an informative note for the EU clients regarding I was a Sari and the REACH regulation.

Our lawyers from Mahindra and Mahindra did a detailed analysis of the EU regulations and advised I was a Sari on the due compliance procedure.

I was a Sari not only transforms saris into unique accessories but also transforms daily lives of the women who create them. iProbono is extremely proud to have contributed to the success of such an innovative, sustainable and empowering initiative. We hope to continue our association with them in times to come!