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Asha, which means “hope” in Sanskrit, was started by professionals responding to the abject poverty of artisans, the problem of exploitative middlemen, and the disappearance of many traditional crafts. Asha’s work has encouraged the growth of cottage industries, assisting once-impoverished individuals and families towards self-sufficiency. Today, Asha works with over 6,500 artisans in India. Benefits to artisans include marketing, design consultancy, product development, advances, interest-free loans, savings programs, medical care, and educational scholarships, uniforms, and books for children. Training is given at the local level on such issues as AIDS, family planning, addictions, domestic violence and gender discrimination, as well as seminars related to business management skills. Asha empowers women by promoting products made by women and women also hold positions of authority and responsibility within the organization.