Brief History – from a Seedling to a Plant and the Emerging Tree

In a society where more than 60% of the population live in poor economic conditions, the position of women is very insecure. Poverty along with male domination has forced women and children to play a submissive role and in most cases they become victims of oppression and exploitation forced to shoulder the burden of family life, both domestically and economically. Most women and many children are forced to work for long hours as vendors, domestic hands and farm workers for little money. Often, economic conditions also sadly force many of these women into prostitution.

The seed of Ankur Kala was sown in 1982 by Ms. Annie Joseph, a qualified social worker from Tata Institute of Social Science, Mumbai and a group of women artisans in Howrah, West Bengal in response to a growing need to motivate marginalised and destitute women to break free from the shackles of poverty and oppression and empower them to become economically self-reliant. She was deeply influenced and touched by Mother Teresa and Brother Roger of Taizé, France.

At a time when most NGOs and institutions were focusing on charitable activities to alleviate the hardships of destitute women by providing succor through health support and vocational training, Ankur Kala took up the challenge of creating a sustainable model for economic self-reliance by motivating women to achieve excellence in vocational skills and then produce and sell their handicrafts in the open market. Starting as a self-employment training centre for Batik handicrafts, Ankur Kala has over the years added training in other vocational skills to meet the growing need among a larger number of marginalised women for economic self-reliance.

Besides Batik, Ankur Kala started vocational training in tailoring, catering, making of jam, squash and pickle, silk screen printing and vegetable dye designing. The seed of Ankur Kala sown in 1982 has grown over the years and today it has established itself as a leading institution in West Bengal for self-employment training in both vocational and business skills for marginalised and destitute women.

Ankur Kala products on sale at a rural mela (fair)
During the last three decades Ankur Kala has encouraged many hundreds of women to set up their own units and run their own business successfully. Many of our women’s children have been able to have a college education and are successfully working in various places with great confidence – a new life of dignity, made possible by their mother’s humble beginnings at Ankur Kala.

We hope to contine this story, serving quietly, but making a real difference to our women and our society.

Our locations: A Miracle on 72B Park Street and Gift of 3, Meher Ali Road
In founder Annie Joseph's own words.

- My Life and Work - the story of Ankur Kala related by Annie Joseph. [PDF]

© 2013 Ankur Kala. All rights reserved.

Ankur Kala is a registered charity, in Calcutta, India.