Workers embroider in Bilikezi Shayimu Handicrafts Cooperative. [Xinhua/Li Jing]
A former laid-off worker expanded her embroidery shop into a cooperative with over 200 employees within 15 years in Yuepuhu County, northwest China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region.
Bilikezi Shayimu said, "I wanted to share the opportunities with my 'sisters' so we could all make our fortune together."
Previously, residents living in the county were commonly hampered by the poor climate, and for a long time there were few jobs available.
Now they are enjoying a better life, Bilikezi explained.
With the help of the local government and women's federation in 2014, she founded her cross-stitched embroidery cooperative for farmers, covering over 200 square meters.
At the start, after the local TV featured a series of adverts, more than 100 women turned up for interviews, she recalls.
"Most of the embroiderers are housewives from troubled households. They can earn 60 yuan (U.S. $ 8.82) for embroidering a pillowcase. It's no problem to earn 1,500 yuan (U.S. $ 220) a month," she added.
Ayimusha, a 21-year-old woman, bought a washing machine and a sheep for her family, with the salary of working for half a year as an embroiderer.
The organizers of a Xinjiang-focused benefit program in Tai'an, east China's Shandong Province, donated more than 2 million yuan (U.S. $ 294,074) last year to build a new factory of 1,000 square meters.
The entire workshop is equipped with a kindergarten where children of employees can receive standard education.
To date, 18 children have studied in the nursery school taught by one regular teacher and two nurses.
Now there are about 20 apprentice embroiderers living and studying at the cooperative. The rest work at home so that they can look after their families as well.
All employees send their work to the factory regularly and Bilikezi offers them free materials, food, accommodation and travel fees.
Thanks to their hard work, the cooperative earned 330,000 yuan (U.S. $ 48,522) last year.
Embroiderers and their children play together. [Xinhua/Li Jing]
(Source: Xinhua/Translated and edited by Women of China)