The handicraft-for-conservation program Snow Leopard Enterprises (SLE) has been a success in Mongolia, Kyrgyzstan, and Pakistan, generating a total of close to $1 million in sales to date. And still, there is room for growth.
Our team in India is busy bringing this venture to their country as well – with pilots underway in the villages of Kibber and Chichim in Spiti.
Like in the other program countries, SLE India’s main aim is to offset losses due to wildlife damage with the income generated through the sale of these handicrafts; and to improve people’s attitudes to wildlife and conservation efforts. SLE is a program specifically aimed at women, as research has shown them to be more skeptical of snow leopards and other predators than the men.
Last November, an initial skill development workshop took place in Spiti, followed by a “training of trainers” workshop held in the South Indian city of Mysore, where our partner organization NCF India is headquartered. 17 women made the day-long trip from the Northern edge of India to Mysore – the first trip outside of their home region for many of them.
This summer, most of them took part in another, crocheting-focused workshop – albeit much closer to home, in Kibber. For pastoralists, this is the most labor-intense season of the year – and yet, a total of 49 women from the two pilot villages took time out of their busy schedules to come to Kibber and attend this workshop. The main goal this time was to improve the skills of the women and the quality of the products they were making. In November, another, even bigger workshop is planned – and the India team hopes to get the first products from Kibber and Chichim to market in 2015.
While you wait for the Indian products to be available, you can browse our beautiful selection of SLE products from Kyrgyzstan, Mongolia and Pakistan in our shop and help us reach the milestone of $1 million in sales!