Our Sustained Funding Grantee: Anchal Project | Designing Change, Stitch by Stitch

The mission of Anchal – our sustained funding grantee for January — is to address the exploitation of women around the world by using design thinking to create employment opportunities, services and products that support empowerment. This mission statement truly comes to life when you hear the stories of Nita and Nasine:

Nita is a senior artisan and project assistant with Anchal Project. She was married at a young age and left her husband after years of abuse. Because of her limited education and lack of transferable skills, Nita joined the commercial sex trade. Nita has now been with Anchal Project for four years where she has excelled in design training and created beautiful, marketable pieces. She has taken advantage of Anchal’s workshops in financial planning and saved enough money to move out of the slum and purchase a home in a new neighborhood where she is no longer stigmatized for her previous life as a sex worker.

There is also Nasine, a hardworking mother of four from an extremely impoverished background who was struggling to put food on the table and care for her sick husband. She enrolled in Anchal’s training program and quickly started creating a variety of beautiful products. When she received her first paycheck she broke into tears before she even knew the amount. She later expressed that she had never seen such a large amount of money much less received it. Proud to call herself an Anchal artisan, Nasine is now economically independent and can provide for her family.

These stories are evidence of the power of DFW’s impact — Nita and Nasine are just two of the women who benefited from DFW’s featured grant to Anchal Project in October 2012. This was the first time that DFW funded a project which assists commercial sex workers, and the results were impressive.

According to Anchal’s final report to DFW in July 2014, our $49,337 featured grant “transformed the lives of hundreds and elevated the status of whole communities. With the funds from the Dining for Women community, we have employed over ninety (90) women – sixty (60) of which work full-time as Anchal artisans. This is over two times the number of women that we had hoped to employ!” The impact on artisans and their families included:

  • Income — Anchal artisans earn 30% to 50% more income than they did prior to joining Anchal and have the opportunity to advance into leadership positions where they can earn closer to 70% more.
  • Savings — Artisans save an average of 15% of their total income, up from 0%.
  • Education — Children of Anchal artisans are now 90% more likely to go to school. (In fact, 100% of Anchal artisans have pledged to keep their daughters out of the exploitive trade and invest instead in their education!)
  • Health services – 100% of artisans and their families have access to healthcare.
  • Food – 60% increase in food consumption.

Anchal’s report adds that “the most significant impact from our program is the most difficult to measure, but is undeniable in the presence of Anchal artisans: the restoration of confidence and self-worth.” Anchal artisan Nazia shares: “Before Anchal, I was not able to do anything. My confidence was very low and I can’t face people but after the association with Anchal I am proud of myself and I can do what I want to do.”

DFW’s grant also led to exciting new opportunities for Anchal. It allowed Anchal to collaborate with Urban Outfitters, an American retail chain with more than 200 stores in the U.S., Canada, and Europe, to create a one-of-a-kind, 11-piece collection. This collaboration boosted Anchal’s national profile, helped reach a younger demographic, and allowed it to support even more women in India. Since the DFW grant, Anchal has been able to secure additional grants through Google One Today, Google Adwords, Forix Foundation, and Circle of Sisterhood.

“Dining for Women was the first organization to truly believe in us and the program funding provided by your members will forever change the lives of the women involved,” states the report.

With these results, it is clear that DFW members’ belief in Anchal was well-founded! And now, DFW has awarded Anchal a sustained funding grant of $60,000 ($20,000 per year over a three-year period) which will expand employment opportunities in textiles and design for commercial sex workers in India through a natural dye initiative. The Designing Colorful Change (DCC) project will provide 35 new women trainees and 100 current artisans with natural dye education and training workshops. Over the course of three years, the project will fund the employment of 35 new artisans and the education of Anchal’s current 100 artisans.

With such impressive results with our first grant, we will eagerly await hearing more about how DFW and Anchal are transforming the lives of even more women and families!



Anchal is also a participant in DFW’s cause marketing program. Use this link to shop for Anchal’s beautiful, hand-stitched textile goods (scarves, quilts, bags) made from vintage saris and eco-friendly fabrics and DFW will receive 10% of all sales.