Arifa Jain, the founder of Numdhah Handicrafts, has trained more than 100 women in Kashmir. She chose to become an entrepreneur and revive the dying craft of Namda. Her parents wanted her to try for a government job and thought she was making a mistake by not choosing an easy path. But she believed in herself and knew the immense potential of this ancient craft – 98% of it was once exported.
Namda is a traditional Kashmiri rug made of felting wool instead of weaving, giving it a unique texture. Despite financial constraints, she continued to come up with innovative designs of the traditional craft, by working with artisans. She introduced manufacturing innovations and soon saw a steep rise in demand. Today, her products are exported to 11 countries, and nearly 100 artisans work with her alongside, mostly unemployed women.
Now her parents can’t stop beaming with pride, since she won the prestigious Naari Shakti Puraskar.
Arifa along with 15 other women was honored with Nari Shakti Puraskar by President Ram Nath Kovind on 8 March 2020, International Women’s Day. The award for her has come at a time when the businesses in Kashmir were struggling due to the lockdown for the past seven months. She has employed many Kashmiri artisans which is quite inspiring as it is tough for artisans who are compelled to switch to other jobs when they feel exploited by low wages.
So go chase your dreams, ladies!