Women Bring Micro-Enterprise In Rural Rajasthan

Vedanta Group company, Hindustan Zinc, bringing difference in the lives of thousands of rural women in Rajasthan...

Women in rural Rajasthan are for a change. Their social and economic conditions are changing and they are emerging as self reliant, self independent, micro entrepreneur, and decision makers in their house. The women of rural Rajasthan are experiencing women empowerment. Their house hold income is increasing multi-fold and there is a significant change in their quality of life.The credit goes to forming of Self Help Groups that has participation of about 10-12 rural women, primarily of the same village and surrounding.

Rajasthan is emerging as one of the leading State in India in development of Self Help Groups (SHGs). Hindustan Zinc alone facilitates 215 Self Help Groups in the district of Udaipur, Chittorgarh, Bhilwara and Rajsamand. More than 3,500 women are associated with these 215 Self Help Groups in the State. The important part is that all the Self Help Groups are linked with the banks and operate their bank accounts. The cumulative savings of these groups is about Rs. 45 Lacs and about 80% of these Self Help Groups have received a loan of about Rs. 50 lacs from the banks.

Radha Somani of Agucha village, took a loan of Rs. 10,000 and starated a Manihari Shop. Today she earns about Rs. 4,000/- per month. She says, "I am paying pack my installment and also my sons college fees. In soon my son would complete MBA and our days of hardship would change". Another women Shanti Mali is about 56 years of age, widow with one son. She was working as daily wager and fell ill. She took a loan of Rs. 15,000/- and started cultivating vegetables in 2 bighas of land. Today her daily earnings are over Rs. 500/-. She has become a small entrepreneur now.

With emphasis on self independence and improving their quality of life, about 60% members have opted and established their own micro-enterprise , viz. vegetable cultivation, mini dairy, tailoring shop, grocery shops, spice grinding units, imitation jewellery shop to name a few. This has brought a significant change in their economic conditions. On an average there has been an increase in their monthly income to the tune of Rs. 2,000 to Rs. 5,000.

Hindustan Zinc has not only been facilitating these Self Help Groups but also linking them with banks, and guiding them for opening micro enterprises. The role of Hindustan Zinc is important in terms of making these women participate in the Panchayat affairs, decision making in issues within their houses, at village level, and also uplifting their quality of life. The Company has been educating them on savings, inter-loaning and capacity building, including, providing need based training to the members.

The exercise begins in convincing individual women for forming a group i.e SHG, their training, imparting knowledge in book keeping and continuously motivating them till they start achieving results. “There is also resistance from men in the family said ,” Bhanwar Singh Chundawal, sarpanch, Nagari village in Chittorgarh. “They fear their wives and daughters-in-law are going to become too independent for their liking.” In spite of all that, self-help groups are spurring hope and aspirations for women like Chunki Devi, 47. A widow and mother of four, she has struggled for 11 years to earn a living. Recently she joined a self , help group in Agucha and is taking a Rs 25,000-loan to buy seeds and fertilizers for her fields. “I hope my days of poverty would soon come to an end,” said Devi, a lohar (blacksmith) by caste.

Some self-help groups, such as the one in Ganeshpura village of Chittorgarh, work towards generating collective income for their members.

“Our group works together to make bags, bed sheets and rakhis,” said Chanchal Parikh, 37, its president. “We have tied up with a person for bulk orders.” The groups also give loans to its members. Their functioning is largely democratic - with regular elections to the posts of president, secretary and treasurer.

The biggest concern is that most of these women are not literate; so, they have to depend on others to operate their bank accounts and handle finances. Although the groups meet every month to discuss socially relevant issues such as childcare, family planning and sanitation, many members fail to benefit because they are not educated.

In a country where women empowerment in rural area plays an important role in the economic development of the nation, the participation of Corporates in forming of SHGs is important.

1 comment:

  1. Visited the vedanta women's college in Ringas recently and was impressed by the dedication and management of the staff. Students are being given modern education at an affordable price.More science and technology based projects can be got from DST , UGC so that students are given opportunities to do research also. WAY TO GO!!!!