Boost for cause that helps people help themselves

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A Glasgow-based charity that has helped people in some of Scotland’s poorest communities launch their own businesses is set to expand.

WEvolutuion, backed by the Church of Scotland, is to receive a £225,000 grant from the Scottish Government to help it develop a business model from India that is already helping 250 people.

The charity brings together small groups of people who all contribute a small amount of money each week to get a business idea off the ground.

Once a business is underway the group can apply for a small loan to help their enterprise grow.

Some of the self reliant groups started out using use skills they already had, while others have learned new skills.

So far the groups have created enterprises that involve sewing, photography, woodworking and laundry.

Now plans are underway to train people in bike repair, plastering and electrical wiring – and a new line of WEvolution products may be on display in high streets before the end of the year.

Scottish Local Government Minister Kevin Stewart said: “We want to see a Scotland in which everyone can play a full part in society, with empowered communities able to shape their individual and collective futures.

“I’m delighted to be able to confirm this funding for WEVolution – a fantastic organisation which helps support some of Scotland’s communities with the greatest potential to change to follow their dreams and grow their own businesses.

“It is a great example of our policies in action – which are giving people more control over decisions that affect them, making it easier for local people to develop their own economies, wellbeing and environments.”

Noel Mathias, WEvolution’s managing director, said the new funds will allow it to work with an additional 150 people.

“I am grateful to the Scottish Government which has stood by us as we work alongside people trusting they will benefit the community and the country in the long run.

“We now have a WEvolution product line — a tote bag, makeup bag and keychain— and we are talking to potential retail partners who are interested in stocking WEvolution products.

“So we hope that our products will be on display in high streets across the country before the end of the year.”

He added: “WEvolution started from a Church of Scotland group who visited India, seeking new ideas to help our most disadvantaged communities.

“Thanks to the support of the Church, we have gone from strength to strength and are now an independent charity.”

Jyoti Mhapsekar (pictured, with microphone) pioneered the self reliant group model in Mumbai, India, bringing together women who make their living from rubbish dumps to negotiate waste management contracts.

Speaking at a WEvolution gathering in Glasgow, she said: “I’m honoured and I feel very happy that WEvolution has been inspired by the courage and the hard work of our women.

“Our women are some of the poorest women in the city. We call them rag pickers. They came together to secure waste management contracts. But even though they are so poor they smile. They smile despite their struggles.

“The model will vary in different places because the circumstances are different.

“But wherever women build their own lives from their own efforts they become more confident and that is very important.”