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Founded by Begum Jahanara, a native Bengali woman who wanted to help poor men and women develop skills that would allow them to earn a reliable income, this rural group is one of the oldest handicrafts organizations in Bangladesh. Today, it operates two training schools that teach skills in painting, weaving, knitting, wood-carving and basket weaving, all using local materials. Over 300 artisans in 15 villages now benefit from the work of Jahanara. In addition to a fair wage and safe working conditions, Jahanara offers day care, low interest loans and adult literacy classes. Begum and members of her family still direct Jahanara alongside other highly skilled artisans.