I’ve been weaving Patolas for about 25 years now. My association with Saath began around 2005. Saath came to our village and started a cooperative to help us create a savings pool where every member contributed ₹ 30. There was a lot of skepticism initially around Saath. Many village elders asked us not to trust them with our money as many organisations had come in around the time of the earthquake (2001), made money and disappeared. Some of us felt otherwise and pushed everyone to have faith and give them a chance. We all benefited from taking this opportunity.
We used to weave Patolas before Saath came to us but it was a tough market to work in. We would only get back our investments after the Patola was sold. Stitching one Patola saree (single weave) takes us anywhere between 12 to 14 days. Then, we would make a trip to Baroda, Ahmedabad, Surat or Bombay every 15-20 days to sell the finished product. It would be another 15-20 days before we could go back there to collect our payment. In all, it would only be about one and a half months into the production cycle that we could get any renumeration for the work we did.
Since Saath came into the picture, they would help us source raw material in between this cycle, when we would previously have been sitting idle. Earlier, we would have to pay for raw material upfront. Saath changed this by helping us get the material at a lower cost and on credit. Now, instead of planning trips to sell the Patola after 3-4 garments were done, we could work on 15-20 garments at a stretch and only then work towards selling them. (Continued)