Jammu: Mamta Devi, who hails from a low-income household, gained popularity under the moniker “methai wali didi” after receiving financial assistance from the Jammu and Kashmir State Rural Livelihoods Mission (Umeed).
Devi resides in the Bishnah village of Sainia Kothe. She was a stay-at-home wife, and her husband provided for them by working at a sweet shop. Her life took a turn for the better in 2015 when she joined a Bishnah self-help group with at least 10 other individuals.
“Initially, people were apprehensive that the officials consisting of women and men from Andhra Pradesh would visit door to door in our village in Bishnah in 2014. They were introducing the SHG scheme among the people and people were not ready to believe their scheme or trust them as they were not from J&K,” said Devi while speaking to Greater Kashmir.
“I joined the SHG group as I was convinced and gradually, gained financially with help from the group,” she said.
When asked about her transition from a housewife to a successful businesswoman who operates sweet and stitching job from home with other SHGs, she answered that “She was a housewife first and a successful businesswoman second. In order to improve the lives of the rural women in Jammu and Kashmir who suffer due to a lack of resources, the Jammu and Kashmir State Rural Livelihoods Mission was crucial.”
“Our group grew and the financial support too. The loan is provided on minimum interest to the needy (members of SHG) and it helped us to work and then repay the loan. With the gradual learning process, I constructed two concrete rooms. Earlier, my family was in a kacha house and its roof would leak during rainfall,” she recalled.
“I helped my husband to open his own sweet shop and I too started working in groups like stitching cloth bags, tracksuits, making national flags, sweet stalls, cloud kitchen etc. Some of the women in Bishnah have also opened readymade garment shops, forms etc.”
“Now we easily get loans to expand our work or business. We get a chance to showcase our work across Jammu and Kashmir or even outside. We have started a shop at Bawe (Jammu). I had to invest Rs 5000 but interestingly, I earned Rs 35000 in ten days by serving locally made fast food or sweets,” she said.
While saying that the women should come forward and work with the help of SHGs, she said she also installed sweet stalls, handicraft etc at the police headquarter (hinting at the police public mela) in Jammu, another stall at a function in Srinagar, Government Degree College for Women, Gandhi Nagar and other places and all were profitable.
At the age of 49, she said she could not believe that she came out of all of the financial hardships in her life and in nine years of work, Devi became successful and people outside Bishnah also know her as ‘methane wali didi.’
SHGs, according to her, help poor women by providing them with skills and financial support in different products that have market value. She said that they were invited to different places by the concerned department.