You're probably wondering who's gonna be part of the CAMP experience. Lucky for you, we've already selected some delegates from Australia and China to be part of CAMP. Over the coming weeks, we'll introduce them to you through a series of posts on this blog.
Today, we're introducing Danma, a Tibetan social entrepreneur developing supporting women's work in remote areas.
What kind of person are you?
If you ask me what kind of person I am, that is who I am right now but to truly understand me I have to talk about my past and things that helped shaped who I am. My name is བརྟན་མ་སྐྱིད (Danmaji) and I grew up on the vast Himalayan plateau under the constraints of a Tibetan woman’s life. When I was a child, my only future seemed to be bearing children, herding livestock, fetching water, and collecting wood and yak dung for fuel. I observed and understood the gender inequality in my community where women took on the most menial and difficult tasks. By pursuing further education at Qinghai Normal University’s “English Training Program” and implementing several development projects in my village, I proved to villagers with actions what my words could not, that educating women is worthwhile. The projects I chose required minimal budget but their impact was profound. I implemented a running water project which brought water directly from the spring to each household for the first time. Women who had once carried 20 kilogram water buckets for one hour each way were free to use their time on other endeavours. This project, funded by the Council of International Education Exchange’s Ping Grant for $AUD24,500, delivered running water to 60 households and a primary school, demonstrated to my fellow villagers that women are capable of being decision-makers in society. More significantly, I demonstrated to myself that I could occupy the role of leader and that my community would listen.
What are your top skill sets?
Over the past few years, have been given the gift of learning to identifying my top skill sets. But, I can say that these lessons have transformed the way I work and the types of work I take on. I worked for a number of International organizations both in Australia and China, l gained practical experience and skills in team work, community service and leadership, management skills in facilitating groups and organizing different-sized internal and external interagency meetings, coordinating community development projects and engaging with diverse groups of people. I have found my passion lies with assisting individuals, groups and communities to cope with their complex socio-economic, psychological problems to achieve social inclusion, peer support and positive change.
What attracts you to be apart of CAMP?
1) This workshop is the perfect place for new innovators to gain practical skills and get advice on relevant policies which may affect the project plan. It is significant to exchange ideas and get advice among successful entrepreneurs to find out how they dealt with the government policies. Furthermore, it is vital to have awareness and strategies to work more thoroughly under both high-level policy and ground level actions in order to seek encouragement of social innovation and entrepreneurship from the government.
2) The workshop can help me to build confidence while working with other delegates and successful entrepreneurs. More importantly, stories and experiences from female entrepreneurs who are working in a situation of great cultural sensitivity would help me to understand the challenges and find solutions to them. The exchange of ideas will bring up useful tools and awareness of avoiding gender issues in order to become a role model for the next Tibetan generations.
3). I believe this workshop will mentor us to gain knowledge in planning and setting up a social enterprise which is durable in Tibetan areas. Additionally, I can develop my skills in managing finance and human resources, and the networks needed to tackle the complex social and economic realities of the communities both at internal and external level. This workshop also represents a big transition picture from Non-governmental organisations becoming social enterprises to ensure their long-term sustainability. I can closely work with entrepreneurs in an engaging, interactive environment filled with useful practices and strategies that I can apply to my project.
How do you think you can contribute to CAMP?
I am eager to participate in this program because, given my background as a woman working in gender and development in Tibetan areas of China, I feel it would be a good environment to share in the knowledge, skills and experiences of the other delegates. Additonally, I will utilize my skills to lead and facilitate my team.
What project are you most proud of that demonstrates your passion?
My passion is to found a social enterprise in Gansu Province which focuses on empowering minority groups in the North-western part of China, particularly women. For the social welfare aspect of this enterprise, I want to focus on increasing the well-being of people in impoverished communities by providing a variety of trainings relating to make organic beauty products like producing 100% natural handmade yak milk soap and healthy vegan cosmetics. The project aims to encourage women to take an ownership in producing, designing and packaging products. This project not only will provide a platform to help those in need, but also source fresh and safe products can make a positive impact on the environment and community as a whole. I see there is a big market opportunity in China and overseas because nowadays people are more likely to buy non-toxic cosmetics. The business revenue will be used on community development projects such as women’s health trainings, vocational Tibetan oral and textual trainings in those areas where the Tibetan language is disappearing, mental and health wellbeing projects for young people undergo tremendous pressure for preparing university entrance exams. Moreover, adapting a social enterprise model can not only sustain our own financial capability to support community work in light of shrinking donor funds and increasing of political sensitivity in China, but it will also serve as a showcase for other communities, empowering people as they exhibit their creativity and skills, and recognising villagers’ contributions in making a positive social change.