Empowerment to Entrepreneurship : How Tiroda Women Are Driving Rural Economy…

Multiple programmes of Adani Foundation are holistically changing the socio-economic status of women in Maharashtra’s Tiroda

By Kavita Sardana, Advisor, Health & Nutrition, Adani Foundation A woman has been rightly described as a ‘full circle’ by author Diane Mariechild because ‘within her is the power to create, nurture and transform’. Women just need encouragement, opportunities, resources and skills to equip and empower themselves.

Empowerment enables women to realize their full identity, potential and power – in all spheres of life. And power is not a commodity to be transacted; nor can it be given away as alms. Power is to be acquired, exercised, sustained and preserved.
With thisobjective in mind to make women active contributors in nation building, rather than mere beneficiaries of welfare schemes, Adani Foundationhas been working extensively to promote sustainable livelihoods at itsCSR sites across India.

Women from Tiroda block in Gondia district of Maharashtra, which has a population of 1,87,331, are setting an example in self-reliance and economic independence. Multiple programmes are holistically changing lives of these women, leading to good health and better standard of living.

Fortune SuPoshan, a nutrition intervention project of the Foundation, is one such programme that is helping women become change makers while attaining socio-economic independence. It employs women as community resource persons, called SuPoshan Sanginis, and trains them to guide communities in various aspects of nutrition and health. Along with earning an honorarium, the Sanginis also carve their own identity in the process. This project recently completed four years in Tiroda.

In collaboration with the Government of Maharashtra, Adani Foundation andManav Vikas Mission have been running various initiativeswhich include makingincense (agarbatti and dhoop) andlac banglesas well ascultivation of oyster mushrooms.Presently, the Foundation is working with a total of 253 members of 43 women’s Self-Help Groups (SHGs),fostering entrepreneurshipbased on knowledge-sharing, upgrading skills andproviding market linkage support.

Even amidst COVID-19, our project stakeholders could continue to earn. This was a turning point as men, who had lost their jobs due to Covid-19, began to appreciate the hard work put in by the women of the household, who managed domestic responsibilities as well as their work with aplomb.

In fact, when everything had come to a standstill, the demand for incense had peakedand so did the earnings of our SHG members.It was around this time that a group of SuPoshan Sanginis thought of becoming a part of SHGs through the support of Adani Foundation. When everyone was home-bound and sitting idle, our SuPoshan Sanginis were itching to go the extra mile.

Looking at the requirement, the Foundation arranged for 20 agarbatti machines in five villages — Garada, Ramatola, Tikaramtola, Mendipur, and Gumadhawada. In all, 60 women were involved in agarbatti making.During the entire year, when many were forced out of their jobs and sitting idle, each member was able to produce 50-100 kg per day and sell in the Gondia market through buyback policy, earningRs 3,000-4,000per month.

One such group comprising Sarita Chaudhary, Lalita Chaudhary and Gunvanta Chaudharyproduced only 5-10 kg of incense sticks initially because they lacked confidence. However, in February 2020, Sarita, who was also a SuPoshan Sangini for Mendipur and Barbaspura,and her other team members produced about 50 kg of agarbattis.The quality of their productsfetched them maximum market rate.

This encouraged them to put in more hours into incense production. Later, Sarita’s husbandalso started helping them in purchasing raw material and selling the finished products. In March and April, they produced about 150-200 kg of agarbattis. By June 2020, the production reached 500-550 kg, earningthem Rs 35,200. During the six-month-long lockdown, their total income touchedRs 70,000.

Like Sarita, there are other SuPoshan Sanginis who are involved in different activities — two are engaged in Milk Collection and Chilling Centres (MC&CC), nine in household dairy business and 22 in mushroom cultivation. Lac bangle makingis another initiative that attracts many stakeholders as lac is cultivated on a large scale by farmers in Gondia.

45 SHG women, includingtribal women of Tiroda, were trained in it. The Adani Foundation provided them a buyback platform through which they sell bangles to Dulhandevi Sanstha, an NGO. These women create colourful designs and earn Rs 3,000-4,000 per month.

While the womenin Tiroda are traditionally involved in seasonal paddy farmingfor five to six months,for the remaining months theyhave something to look forward to. By engaging in gainful income-generating activities,the total household income increases, and the women develop a sense of self pride.Indeed, awell-nourished family with a sustainable source of income is the way forward for buildingthe Atma Nirbhar Bharat of our dreams.

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