The watches we saw today were assembled in a factory called MEADOW, a private company with a difference.

It was started and is owned by 22 Self-help Affinity Groups in Tamil Nadu state. Women from the groups work there, recruit the managers and appoint the Board. When they make a profit they each take a dividend, a bonus. Every employee/owner got £350 each last year.

As with any enterprise it has not been an easy ride. They dipped in and out of profit for the first five years. After a decade all seemed rosy. Turnover, reserves and dividends were consistent and healthy.

Then came the global economic crash. They never returned a loss but it was necessary to restructure. The women- the workers- took hard decisions and today the 380 Members look forward to their best year.

They make products, jewellery as well as watches, for Titan, a major company in India, and therefore the world. Titan were at first reluctant to contract directly with the women, preferring to deal with an intermediary. But they have learned the benefits of the arrangement. They stay with the women because they know they can rely on them. Other attempts to outsource have failed. The walls of MEADOW’s offices are crammed with awards for quality of work.

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