Women entrepreneurs transform rural economy despite multitasking whirlpool

SHG eco-system provide new lease of life to women entrepreneurs : Dr Sehrish
Women entrepreneurs transform rural economy despite multitasking whirlpool
GK Photo

Women entrepreneurs are transforming and challenging traditional understandings of professional success in the current times, despite the multitasking whirlpool, say officials.

“UMEED - a centrally sponsored scheme, gives new lease of life to rural women amidst the pandemic,” Managing Director, Jammu & Kashmir State Rural Livelihoods Mission (Umeed), Dr. Sehrish Asgar says.

“Scores of women entrepreneurs in the self-help group from various districts across J&K are scripting a success story in the fight against COVID in rural areas,” she says.

“UMEED (JK Rural Livelihood Mission) has the potential to give wings to the aspirations of rural women who dream of becoming economically independent.”

She says during the pandemic, the women entrepreneurs are making critical contributions to the battle against the Covid-19. “They (women) are at the heart of care and response efforts underway. The SHG members are making efforts and distributing masks to needy people,” she says.

Dr Sehrish says updated knowledge and skills are required in today’s digital world to develop professionally and succeed as an entrepreneur.

“We are helping women in whatever way we can.”

“We also work on addressing the major barriers to successful entrepreneurship preventing women from realizing their full potential or stopping them from even beginning an entrepreneurial career,” she says.

Then again, developed and developing nations have come to understand that women’s entrepreneurial activities contribute to socioeconomic growth and utilizing the full potential of all human resources is essential for sustainable development. Studies of the 21st century—as those of the late 20th century —continue to spotlight gender gaps in entrepreneurship as well as the so-valued career–family balance, while still arguing that further research is needed. They also agree that successful entrepreneurship requires digital skills along with the drive for innovation.

State Project Manager, JKSRLM, Dr Rais Ahmad Gojri, says that Jammu & Kashmir State Rural Livelihoods Mission (Umeed) has a mandate to reach out to 66% of rural population across the erstwhile 125 blocks. Link them to sustainable livelihood opportunities and nurture them till they come out of poverty and enjoy a decent quality of life.

He said that the programme is under implementation in 96 blocks across 20 districts. So far 405226 poor women have been brought within the fold of SHGs; whereas 4185 Village Organizations (VOs) and 442 Cluster Level federations have been formed. 46720 SHGs have been formed and uploaded on MIS. The members have contributed Rs. 135.98 crores as their own internal savings. Bank accounts have been opened for all the SHGs i.e. 100% bank accounts opened.

He says with their own thrift, the SHGs members have become credit worthy and have accessed Rs 910.91 crores from JKRLM as capitalization and bank credit for investment in their own livelihoods.

Scripting Success

According to business experts, the women’s entrepreneurial initiatives, skills, characteristics, attributes, motives and leadership styles, documenting strategies for success and barriers confronted, indicates that not much has changed.

Women entrepreneurs continue to face the multitasking whirlpool, along with the lack of financial resources, marketing skills and support services, including poor access to business networks, technology and digital markets. They say that despite the mass entry of women in exclusively male domains, glass ceilings have not been shattered. However an official at UMEED says that scores of women have been scripting their success stories in Jammu and Kashmir.

Atiqa Wani, of Ramhal, area of frontier District of Kupwara is from a modest family. Like other students she also struggled for better career opportunities after completing her Post-graduation.

“Despite applying for many vacancies nothing positive emerged,” Atiqa says. She finally thought to stand on her own and decided to start an educational institute as she felt that she had the Resource Persons readily available in the shape of her educated unemployed siblings. With the yearning and the zest of becoming a successful Educationist, she finally got associated with the SHG eco-system to augment her otherwise limited financial resources.

While being associated with the SHG she received a Revolving Fund of Rs. 10,000 initially and later on a Community Investment Fund of 20,000 and then three times a total loan of Rs. 1.40 lacks from the respective VO. Seeing her performance of repayments etc. and her commitment towards her mission she was recommended for bank linkage which helped her in running the affairs of the institute successfully.

Started the institute with only five (5) students she succeeded in getting 200 admissions in 2019 with the help of financial support from UMEED. We are not only earning a decent living but we are proud to become job-givers rather than job-seekers and are able to provide gainful employment to fifteen (15) persons in our institution so far , she says with confidence.

“I want to open additional branches of my school in the remotest areas of my District where dropout rate is still high,” Atiqa says.

Janna Begum, a SHG member since 2015, was struggling for livelihood. From livestock rearing to establishing an enterprise she had to go through a tough and hard time but her perseverance and commitment towards her family kept her going. Begum, hailing from Singhpora of north Kashmir district, established various livelihoods for herself but engaged her entire family in it.

“UMEED provided me with a platform to overcome my financial difficulty. I started Cosmetics and a Fodder Shop and both the units were a good success. I now earn more than Rs. 25,000 profit a month.”

Satisfied with her effort and development, she is motivated to expand her business and start another provisional store.

“Our family condition improved substantially and I could provide gainful employment to other ladies as well. We are very much satisfied with our businesses,” she says.

Naseema Bano of Newa area in south Kashmir’s district Pulwama, has been a SHG member since March, 2016. Her husband is a labourer and the only earning member of the family. She wanted to extend a helping hand to her husband but every time lack of financial resources would come in the way. “I not only now created a livelihood opportunity for myself but engaged my entire family with it. UMEED provided us with an appropriate platform for overcoming our financial difficulties we were facing for quite a long time.”

She says that with the financial help and bank linkage, she was able to establish a full-fledged workshop and a retail copper shop in her vicinity. “The shop is a successful venture and I am earning more than Rs 30, 000 profit a month. I am intending to further expand the activity so that I could generate employment for other needy women of the locality besides earning more profit.”

Bhakhtawar Begum of central Kashmir’s district Budgam has been raising her children with the income generated from the cow unit. “I have been rearing nearly three cows on an average. I have never availed any government-run scheme nor have they ever approached us.”

“I am happy that with the income generated from the cow unit, I have been able to get my daughter married. My son completed education from the university and is now well-established in his field,” Bhakhtawar says.

The story about Sheetal Kumari, hailing from village Sultanpur of Bishnah block is also inspiring. Coming from an economically poor and backward family of five members, she was struggling on a daily basis for her livelihood. “It was very hard for us to make both ends meet. I used to make paper bags all night and sell them to the nearby vendor. I joined the UMEED programme and did my best to revive our economic condition.”

Kumari in a short span of her association with NRLM’s UMEED has generated quite a few assets for her family. She is a role model for the women in her village as well in her own community. She has at present a Karyana shop, a load carrier, 2 to 3 cows and works as an AMC operator in her village.

Like Kumari, Anju Bala of Mathwar, Bhalwal area of Jammu region, was living in abject poverty. Within the SHG ecosystem, she was imparted a number of trainings which opened her horizon. Currently, Anju is running a general store successfully and earning substantial income for her family.

Since, inception of the Umeed scheme in Marh Jammu Self Help Group members of Gango Chak village in Marh Jammu always wanted a permanent source of income. They strived for opening innovative small business units.

Their dreams turned into reality when Umeed, in convergence with ICICI foundation, started a training program in Village, since then they have not looked back. Out of a batch of thirty women in the training, Sushma and five other women from different SHGs decided to start a milk based venture to earn their livelihood.

UMEED in collaboration with National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD) facilitated meeting formalities and installed basic infrastructure like refrigerators and weighing machines. for setting up the venture named Shradha. Shradha is primarily a cottage cheese production unit. Since the area has abundant milk production.

The required quantity of milk for the venture is procured from the local vendors in the vicinity and the Self Help Group members together. “The returns from the venture are promising. Currently I am successfully manufacturing the cottage cheese to sell out to the owners of various food stalls, restaurants for family functions, apart from villagers as buyers.”

GK Photo

Kumari in a short span of her association with NRLM’s UMEED has generated quite a few assets for her family. She is a role model for the women in her village as well in her own community. She has at present a Karyana shop, a load carrier, 2 to 3 cows and works as an AMC operator in her village.

Like Kumari, Anju Bala of Mathwar, Bhalwal area of Jammu region, was living in abject poverty. Within the SHG ecosystem, she was imparted a number of trainings which opened her horizon. Currently, Anju is running a general store successfully and earning substantial income for her family.

Since, inception of the Umeed scheme in Marh Jammu Self Help Group members of Gango Chak village in Marh Jammu always wanted a permanent source of income. They strived for opening innovative small business units.

Their dreams turned into reality when Umeed, in convergence with ICICI foundation, started a training program in Village, since then they have not looked back. Out of a batch of thirty women in the training, Sushma and five other women from different SHGs decided to start a milk based venture to earn their livelihood.

UMEED in collaboration with National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD) facilitated meeting formalities and installed basic infrastructure like refrigerators and weighing machines. for setting up the venture named Shradha. Shradha is primarily a cottage cheese production unit. Since the area has abundant milk production.

The required quantity of milk for the venture is procured from the local vendors in the vicinity and the Self Help Group members together. “The returns from the venture are promising. Currently I am successfully manufacturing the cottage cheese to sell out to the owners of various food stalls, restaurants for family functions, apart from villagers as buyers.”

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