Building Avani’s team in the 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.

Not limited by geographic boundaries
A team of Women on Wings recently worked with a team of Avani Earthcraft (Avani) on improving its teamwork. Most of the 25 women and men participating in the workshop, only spoke Hindi. To tackle the language challenge Women on Wings’ expert Helene van Zutphen faced, she did various team exercises which are universal and need no words. Helene: “The exercises are very much focused on turning good teams into great teams through games. It’s interesting to witness that this team in the Himalayas struggle with the same kind of issues that also my colleagues and I struggle with. Through the fun exercises we did, the team opened up and really listened to what each person had to say.”

Opening up in role play
Avani’s team works and lives on its campus in Tripuradevi, Kumaon region in the Himalayas which brings even more challenges. Rashmi Bharti, co-founder of Avani Earthcraft Cooperative: “Spending time together almost 24/7, work and personal time is much interconnected. 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 our own personal action point and many joint actions. Most of all, we really do work better as a team.”

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.