Don’t let the almost serious eyes peeping behind the horn rimmed glasses fool you. The shy gentle smile that Sujata displays often grows to light up her face, and the animated expression and sheer enthusiasm take over. Sujata Goswami had to play multiple roles in her life at a very tender age. Sujata was barely 9 when she lost her mother. This left her family devastated but her elder brother took it as his responsibility to nurture her along with her father who was a brave single parent. He was a chemical engineer and was settled in Indore but later had to relocate to different cities for his job. Sujata acknowledges that it was a small town but provided her a healthy blend of literature, education and culture. Holistic development was evident, but as years passed, she withdrew into a shell, grew a loner and became self-contained.
She pursued her graduation in science and got married, and then ventured into teaching Maths and Science in a school. But Sujata was destined to do much more. She got a chanced opportunity to learn further and thought of a second innings at higher education. Her interest in the development sector and her brother’s motivation made her seek admission at EDII. It was during her interview that her evident interest in the development sector was appreciated.
Sujata shares that being a loner, a novice at development work, left her a little fearful of the decision she took of joining EDII. However, the green environment and the limited number of focussed fellow students was a catharsis for her. She discovered herself a new. She overcame her inner fears, made new friends, became an avid reader, and developed a special knack for writing skills, especially in the areas of natural resource management and gender. EDII helped her choose a future course of action that brought out the best in her and left her feeling content. She topped her batch with a Gold medal.
Through campus recruitment, Sujata was soon working as management trainee with Sarba Shanti Ayog, the development partner organization of leading Fair Trade organization, Sasha. Her in-depth understanding and project management skills got her speeding in an upward trajectory. Within a short span of three months she was confirmed in the organization and gates seemed to have opened to vast opportunities.
Sujata presently is the Executive Director of Sarba Shanti Ayog. Her work with SSA has taken her around the world, and exposed her to many developmental perspectives globally. Now was the time when Sujata exemplified the theoretical pinnings provided at EDII through actual application in real life. The field visits during the Development Studies course made her learning abilities much stronger. The socio economic perspectives were challenging, leading to debates and a strong understanding. Sujata appreciates the interactions provided by faculty from across institutions like MICA, NID, IIM and CEPT that were extremely beneficial and gave a huge boost to the understandings of the subjects.
Sujata has worked extensively in capacity building of women artisans and businesses in the organization. She has constantly worked at market development for crafts and closely oversees the the flagship store of Sasha in Kolkata. There has been an increased intensity in reaching out to consumers recently, with introduction of pop ups at various stores and cities. They even intend to hold pop-up exhibitions in various cities. Out of the 5000 artisans her organization works with regularly, more than 60% are marginalised women. A soft smile is evident when Sujata gently informs that the women of 24 Parganas, one of the most backwards districts in West Bengal, have come out of their home and become independent and more empowered. The change is clearly visible both in terms of social and economic empowerment. This helps them gain control over their assets and helps in decision-making. Since they work in their home environment, with their community and with flexible hours, it makes the enterprises of these women more sustainable.
The training at EDII continues to help Sujata to go back to books and academics. She is constantly adding to her skills. She is alert and is also utilising the digital media to her advantage. With her ear to the ground Sujata manages to respond to the changes in the environment speedily.
So way to go Sujata !!! And keep up the good work.