Improving teamwork at Avani’s in Himalayas

Situated in the lower foothills of the Himalayas, staff of Women on Wings’ business partner Avani Earthcraft is used to taking steep steps to reach work. Since they want to grow as a team, they recently took a huge step in improving internal communication and teamwork.

Communication has no geographic boundaries
A team of Women on Wings recently worked with a team of Avani Earthcraft (Avani) on its communication challenges. The first challenge was for expert Helene van Zutphen herself, as the 25 women and men mostly spoke Hindi. Helene: “We tackled this by help of translation, body language and a lot of laughter. It is interesting to see that a company, deep in the mountains of the Himalayas, struggles with the same kind of issues that also my colleagues and I struggle with. Good teamwork is all about good listening, not just to the spoken, also body language says a lot.”

Opening up in role play
Helene and Shashank Teotia, senior business consultant at Women on Wings, worked 2,5 days with the Avani team. After getting to each other better, the team jointly made a list of all communication challenges. The next day was all about helping the team to come up with their own solutions. Rajendra Kumar Joshi, Manager of Earthcraft Cooperative: “It is hard to say no to someone and to communicate honestly about commitments. Through many interactive exercises and role plays we were able to work on these social and business dilemmas. It’s been a great experience. We all have at least one clear personal action point. And many joint actions. Most of all, we really do work better as a team now that we’ve opened up.”

The partnership
Avani focuses on capacity building in rural communities, and on creating opportunities for women and families to make sustainable contributions to their villages. It is devoted to generating income for local people using only local skills and local, environmentally friendly materials. Avani’s primary focus is on sustainably harvested and produced tints, dyes, textiles and garments. Since April 2013 Women on Wings and Avani are partnering in building the Avani organization with the ultimate aim to employ more women in the Himalayas.