Over the years NEN has initiated ethical and eco-friendly activities and livelihood projects for women that have contributed considerably to positive changes. The income generated has led to recognition and respect for women within their homes and made for better gender relations in the communities too. This includes the Chizami Weaves line of products woven by women living in villages of Phek district of Nagaland. Beginning with 8 women in 2008 it is a thriving movement covering 600 women weavers today.
In 2017, NEN commenced a similar handloom weaving program in Assam, called Saneki Weaves, which initially started with a group of 30 odd women weavers from the Mising tribe in Sonitpur district and has later expanded to include women weavers from other communities in Kamrup (Rural), Darrang and Udalguri districts too.
We have chosen an organic route of tapping into the immense potential of local resources and existing skills of women – preserving and promoting the indigenous backstrap loom of Nagaland and traditional throw shuttle loom weaving culture in Assam.
With growing numbers and rising revenue NEN has now set up a Trust to create NENterprise – a legal entity to engage with its economic but not-for-profit activities. Thus both Chizami Weaves and Saneki Weaves are brands producing fabrics and furnishings, apparel and accessories, under the umbrella of NENterprise with distinct state-specific identities.
The furnishing items include cushion covers, coasters, wall hangings, table runners and mats. Apparel items include sarongs, shawls, mufflers and stoles, dress materials, while accessories such as bags, purses, pencil cases, coin bags are also being made. Sales of these items are channelised back to the brands for purchasing raw materials, paying wages to weavers and to cover costs of sales and marketing.
In this way, we are slowly and steadily growing the brands so that they are able to sustain their efforts over time and in turn will benefit the women weavers of Nagaland and of Assam.