Growing from 14 artisans to over 70 in five years, and expanding exports from North America to Europe, Asia, Australia, and New Zealand, is a lot of work. Here is an introduction to several of the women working behind the scenes to make it possible; overseeing production, monitoring quality, providing guidance and encouragement to Basha artisans, and doing it all with kindness and grace. They’ll tell you in their own words more of who they are and what they do.
My name is Baby Das. I work as the Production Manager at Basha, overseeing production in all Basha sites. I’m the youngest in my family. I have one sister and two brothers. I live with my older brother. I have one nephew and one niece who are wonderful! I enjoy watching adventure movies, reading novels, playing chess, and listening to music. I also like to learn new things and to help others.
I have worked at Basha for four years. I love working at Basha because I have an opportunity to help women and children who otherwise would have no chance to change their lives. The women we employ need help because they have been neglected, jobless, and dishonoured by our society. I’m very glad to work with them. There are many challenges managing the women we work with, managing production, and helping them improve themselves and develop their leadership potential. Because of the struggles and bad experiences from their past, many artisans don’t know how to plan for their own lives. They don’t understand how they can earn more if they work harder. They don’t know how to make good choices for themselves and their children. They don’t know how to improve their skills. They need help to improve their thinking, working, earning, and living.
As a member of Basha’s production team, I monitor artisan’s work and health. We sit together and I ask gently what has happened, how I can help her to make more products so that she earn more, how I can give her work targets she is able to meet. I motivate each employee to work hard and build a successful life. I help them understand that Basha is their business, and they can help build it into a business that can help others as well. So I really do enjoy my work at Basha
I loved to work from a young age… even from 9 years old. I didn’t like to study so much but I liked to work. My family had some financial problems so I was able to help by making cards at my home for a local artist. I then helped with sari design and production, a traditional practice in my community. There was not much time for rest and I realized my education was lacking. A local NGO started offering training when I was about 16 and I joined that. Again I was able to earn some extra money working in my home alongside studying at home. I was hired as a Production Mentor at Basha when I was 20 years old. I have lots of energy. I like to stay busy. I don’t enjoy work in the home: I like to be working at a job. At Basha, I often have too much work to do, but I do love my work. I enjoy everything except when some of the employees are difficult. Sometimes when they are very difficult, I think I will quit. Sometimes I say the same thing over and over but they don’t listen. This is frustrating. I have learned that when someone is being difficult, I need to just be quiet until they have calmed down. I try to think of another way to solve the problem.
I have parents, an older sister and a younger brother. My father is a driver at an NGO. My mom stays at home. My sister was married this year so now I am alone at home. I’m excited that soon I will be an auntie for the first time. My brother will give his final exams this year for his BA in business. He is anxious about his exams and about getting work once he is finished. It’s very difficult to find work in Bangladesh. You have to have family members to help you get into work and we don’t have these types of connections. When I started working at Basha I was surprised that people wanted these products as they are common in Bangladesh. But then I saw that people in other countries want to buy them so I was encouraged to help make sure our products are high quality. I have had several foreigners work alongside me and this helps a lot: to learn and to have someone to share the work with. I do regret that I didn’t study much, but I’m now learning to enter things on the computer and other new skills.
I am Munni. I have been married almost a year and a half. I am working at Basha because it is a safe place where many women are working and I don’t have to feel like I’m in danger. I previously didn’t understand what kind of difficulties people experienced but now that I know, I am glad I am able to help others. I listen to them when they are feeling badly and need to talk about something. I’m able to help them develop themselves and become leaders. Basha artisans are learning much about how to work, and they are also learning in their daily classes. I like it that everyone helps and supports one another. There is a good facility for the children, and I appreciate that the children are well cared for. Sometimes I go to the daycare just to enjoy seeing how they are cared for.
I go to college on my day off. I am studying service as I want to continue to help others. I eventually want to study to be a paramedic.
I try to manage problems when they occur. If someone becomes very angry, I give them time alone and then meet with them after they have had time to cool down. I know they won’t understand anything while they are upset. I try to help calm others, even when staff are frustrated.
Sometimes the women say they can’t do the work in the jewellery department. I tell them, “You can. I will teach you.” I guide their hands and help them do it. I encourage them; then they are able to learn.
I like to sleep but I don’t get much time for that! I like making jewellery and I particularly like learning new things. Recently I’ve been learning to input data on the computer and I really love the chance to learn this.
This is only a small glimpse of the work Baby, Shima and Munni do. They keep lines of production going, oversee all quality control, handle special orders and special requests, and manage all the artisans. Basha could not exist without them and we are grateful for all the contributions they make into our products and into the lives of the women who make them.
“Excellence is the Result of Caring more than others think is Wise, Risking more than others think is Safe, Dreaming more than others think is Practical, and Expecting more than others think is Possible.”