How a business idea helped change the lives of these women

Covid-19 has changed lives for the worse for many, but a group of women – from students Venella and Ramya to septuagenarian Savithramma – in a village near Bengaluru have turned the crisis into an opportunity.

Until recently, Venella and Ramya had no source of income to support their education, but they teamed up with Yashoda, another woman from their village, to produce and market handmade organic cosmetics and registered their business under the name “Kadumba Naturals”.

For Yashoda, it was a do or die battle as her husband, a taxi driver in Bangalore, lost his job during the pandemic and the family faced financial problems. It was then that Yashoda decided to take the risk of joining the women in her village and starting a business.

While Yashoda banded together with the two students, another group of women started a snack business selling local specialties. One group ventured into setting up a garment unit while another embarked on the production and sale of biodegradable sanitary napkins and a group of elderly women explored options for raising sheep.

All of these women reside in villages in and around Guttahalli, in rural Bengaluru, and started their businesses with the support of the Smile Foundation’s “Entrepreneur Development Training Program”.

“In any crisis or situation like a pandemic, women have to deal with the impact. They do not have a support system despite being the mainstay of their families. We need to empower women financially and there must be plans in that direction, ”said Seema Kumar, Executive Director (Programs) of the Smile Foundation. DH.

Navaneetha Jeyapal, coordinator of the Smile Foundation’s Swabhiman project that manages the program, said they are helping these women start the business they are interested in.

The women’s groups were chosen from around 170 who gathered for the program initially and after a series of workshops and training programs and provided raw materials to the selected groups who made products and ventured into the marketing and sales. “Some exercises were carried out as part of a training program to assess the skills of these women in doing business and their ability to take risks,” Jeyapal said. DH.

Among the groups there is a clear division of labor. If Yashodha makes organic cosmetics, Venella and Ramya do marketing. It is the same with the sewing unit, where the women received special training to start their business.

The project also brought in the best of women, including leadership qualities. Yashoda motivated other women in her community to start their own businesses.

“For those who weren’t able to organize the resources initially, she got them involved in her business on a pay-for-production basis,” organizers said. Yashoda now wants to grow his business and train and support women.

When designing the projects, the organizers recall how the ‘contagious’ enthusiasm of the septuagenarian Savithramma prevailed, as she teamed up with her friends Muni Lakshmamma, Gundamma, Lakshmi and Muniamma for a commercial enterprise on animal husbandry. of sheep. Savithramma has attended all of the training programs, they say.

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