Women Empowerment and Livelihood

Self-Help Groups & Women Empowerment (Saathi)

Project Summary 

This is Sukarya’s flagship program, operating for the last 10 years. The program aims to empower rural women through SHGs and livelihood initiatives. Following skills are acquired by the women of villages through this project:

  • Skills in "spice & cereal processing & selling, 
  • Making of liquid soap /dish wash liquid" at home and
  • Paper bag manufacturing .

Efforts are being made to train them as sustainable women entrepreneurs. Currently this program is operational in Guru Gram ,Faridabad and Mewat districts of Haryana as well as Alwar district of Rajasthan.

The status of women and their roles in decision making has always been a challenge in rural India. In general,  women’s empowerment is always considered as a challenge to men’s traditional power and rights to control over the women. This situation is much more acute among the weaker and marginalized section in Guru Gram, Faridabad, Mewat and Alwar.

This program aims to:

  • Promote and strengthen SHGs by inculcating habit of savings and enforcing credit discipline
  • Organize rural poor women into groups to build their own capital through regular savings and get access to loans and secure social and economic security for themselves.
  • Make women socially aware through social development activities.
  • Provide skill based training, regular monitoring and supervision to sustain livelihood/income generation activities.

Key activities in the project included establishing income generation units (food processing/spice & cereal units, paper bag making & dish cleaner), promoting and strengthening of the SHG groups, linking them with banks and other government schemes, providing trade based trainings and marketing skills to SHG women, capacity building/ mentoring for micro enterprising/ entrepreneurship, and providing life skills and social knowledge/awareness to the women

Training women through Sukarya's Learning and Processing Center:  A Success Story

The trainings provided by you were very useful to our self help group members. Other SHG members are quite motivated to see Asha handling bookkeeping of five SHGs in the village and now getting paid also for it.” says Sombati, Shivam SHG treasurer.

Sharda from Umang SHG, in Gwalpahadi, Gurgaon, says, “Home pickle-making is quite the rage right now”. She has managed to rebuild her life through becoming a Self-Help Group(SHG) member. She is the sole earning member of the family with no children and a husband who has not been earning since many years. For the sake of their self respect and earning her livelihood, she always showed a deep interest in learning and capacity building activities to the SHG members by Sukarya. She became an active member of the SHG in handling bookkeeping and recording inter loaning/accounts. She had a sharp mind in accounts and marketing out of the Institutional Training modules at Sukarya Learning and Processing Center in Gurgaon. Through Sukarya imparting their skill based training for income generation like Fortified Atta, cereals, spices, pickle for better understanding of entrepreneurial skills, forward and backward linkages. She now prefers to devote more time to her business of managing a small village outlet of the processing center products to earn her livelihood.

A domestic violence victim Poonam from Lakshmi SHG in (Gwalpahadi, Gurgaon), has a drunkard husband. Her situation was very grave as the family lived as tenant and she being the sole breadwinner of the family. She is quite smart, proactive and easy to grasp any new learning’s at the Sukarya Center. She understands the importance of education and wants her children to attend a regular school, for which she expressed an urge for a full time work. Her main interest areas are Processing, documentation and marketing modules at the Sukarya Institutional Training sessions. She is now working at the Sukarya Spice and Cereal Processing Unit(SCPU) for the full day. She mentioned “We can’t speak our mind and are invisible in the society but it is not difficult to break this barrier. I am happy and confident now.”

Program aims to promote and strengthen SHGs by inculcating habit of savings and enforcing credits discipline. To organize rural poor women into groups to build their own capital through regular savings and get access to loans and secure social security for themselves. Economically empower women and making them self reliant through provisioning of credit and livelihood enhancement initiative to ensure the well being of women and their families. Make women socially aware through social development activities and awareness on social issues. To provide skill based trainings, mentoring and support to generate and sustain livelihood/income generation activities.

Activities included in the project:

Key activities in the project included establishing income generation units (food processing/spice & cereal units, paper bag making & dish cleaner); promoting and strengthening of the SHG groups; linking them with banks and other government schemes; providing trade based trainings and marketing skills to SHG women; Capacity building/ mentoring for micro enterprising/ entrepreneurship; providing life skills and social knowledge/awareness to the women

Under the project we initiated learning and specialized skill development program to provide socio-economic empowerment to the rural women through a sustained micro-entrepreneurship by providing them institutionalized training.

Ruksana from Khushhaal SHG, mentions “Especially the people of the downtrodden sections find it very difficult to raise capital for their productive activity and the indigenous money borrowers’ charges high rate of interest which even ruins the meager assets. The SHGs members when capacity built and working as entrepreneurs uses their savings through regular inter-loaning SHG activity and can avail bank loans through the bank linkages developed after becoming the members of the SHG. We are thankful to Sukarya to help us attain this level of understanding and their post training assistance to set up village outlets and production units. Here the SHG members are supposed to enjoy the profit of their work by keeping the capital in a cash or kind mode for further production.”

Asha from Shivam SHG in (Gwalpahadi, Gurgaon) belongs from the barbar community and her husband is a cab driver. She has buffaloes and collection of fodder, looking 

after cattle had been her major role in the house. She says, “Sukarya found the talent in me. I am high school pass and after becoming SHG member I was asked to do bookkeeping. I am now getting paid for compiling accounts for the five SHGs.” She actively participated in the Institutional trainings at Gurgaon and is quite keen interest in opening her own processing unit at her village. She says “I can dream of this because of my savings from the inter loaning in the SHG and will take some bank loan now.”

Mithlesh from Shivam SHG in (Gwalpahadi, Gurgaon) belongs to barbar community with her husband earning Rs. 10,000 sustaining their family. Her two children out of four dropped their studies due to non financial support, for which she is too eagar to work full time. Her interest developed into processing and packaging modules during the session and is quite enthusiastic on taking this center production with her expertise. She is interested to become an entrepreneur and expand her own business. She is now the proud owner of a shop and mentions “I am using my savings from my SHG and will take a bank loan to open my own processing unit and make my business successful”.

Rajvati Devi a widow and a SHG member (Manger) who was trained by Sukarya on group dynamics, leadership, book keeping, management of small shop and thus she was finally able to manage ‘Apki Saathi Masala Kendra’, an outlet being promoted by Sukarya for improving socio economic condition of women. At this Kendra the items such as cereals, spices, pickles, gram flour, pulses etc are being sold by the entrepreneur which are being prepared by the SHG members formed by Sukarya in an around Haryana. Through this Kendra Rajvati Devi is able to earn Rs 1500 per month after selling approximately Rs. 5000 worth of commodities. She lacked basic economic resources as a widow before becoming a member of Apki Sathi Masala Kendra. She mentions, “Opening my own masala kendra made me a self dignified and I can earn a healthy living for my family and don’t have to look for a financial support from my relatives who always de-motivated me all my life.”

“The feedback from the self help group members is extremely positive. Women are happy with their savings amount and quite inspired to continue being the SHG group member”, mentions Asha while compiling all the book of accounts during the SHG meetings.

Self Help Groups and Micro Enterprise Development

“With the Adult Literacy Classes the illiterate women have started signing and learning new things, which is helping in building confidence in them”.

- Mrs. Asha, Laxmi SHG, Gwalpahari village

“I am independent due to the SHG. My family is not blocked by the scarcity of money. I focus my efforts on the education of my children and business. I believe that whatever I earn should be spent for children’s education. Thanks to Sukarya for helping me live with dignity.”

- Sharmila, Banshwari village.

"60 year old Leelawati lives in the village of Gwalpahari (Gurgaon) with her family. Even at 60 years of age, Leelwati is dependent  on her sons and husband, financially as well as socially. She has been very keen to visit pilgrimages but due to lack of financial power she has had to suppress her wish, since her family does not want to contribute towards this.

One day, Leelawati met our community mobiliser who spoke to her about the Self Help Groups and Spice and Cereal Processing Units(SCPU) being run in her village. She was extremely keen to join the SHG and after overcoming several barriers from the family, she started saving and contributing Rs. 100. After becoming member of Umang SHG, she also started working in SCPU and enrolled in the Adult Literacy Classes. Working in the Spice and Cereal processing Unit, she started earning between Rs 500-800 on a monthly basis. With our support, Leelawati took a loan of Rs 20,000 to purchase a buffalo.

This was a turning point in her life. She started selling milk, augmented her income and doubled this by purchasing one more buffalo. She is now earning .Rs. 3000 – Rs. 3500 per month. Leelawati divides this income into two parts - one part is reserved for repaying the loan amount & the other is for scaling up her business.

Leelawati not only enhanced her economic status but she also gots socially recognition when she availed a loan of Rs. 10,000 for her son’s business. This is was a big step for her as she moved from taking a monthly allowance from her son to economically helping him."