She studied till class 9, but is now a businesswoman who supports 200 rural women
A resident of a village in Rajasthan, Brajesh Bhargav, along with 200 other women, makes 250 different types of jute-based products. She receives bulk orders from Delhi, Jaipur and Agra. Her products under the brand name Raksakhi are listed on Flipkart and Amazon too.
Rajesh Khandelwal 23 May 2023 6:00 AM GMT
Satyaprakash Bhargav could not be a prouder husband. The former daily wage labourer said that till his wife began to earn and build a business of her own, they had no home of their own, his earnings barely covered their expenses, and education for their two sons seemed a distant dream.
“Her hardwork and entrepreneurship has changed my destiny too. Now I help her with her work,” the resident of Khanva village in Bharatpur district of Rajasthan told Gaon Connection.
Brajesh Bhargav smiled as her husband praised her. She not only earns a profit of up to Rs 12 lakh a year, but also provides employment to about 200 other rural women.
Brajesh, who has studied till class nine only, has set up her small business and makes 250 different types of home products out of jute, such as bags, mats, tablemats, handpurses (for both men and women), and planters. She receives bulk orders from places as far as Delhi, Jaipur and Agra. Recently, the mother of two, has also started tailoring women’s clothing.
“Never in my dreams did I think I would be earning a livelihood and become the breadwinner of the family,” Brajesh told Gaon Connection. “There was a time when after I cooked the morning meal, I did not know if we would have enough money to find another meal at night. But, not any more,” she added.
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After years of drudgery, things began to look up for Brajesh and her family when in 2016 members of the Rajasthan Grameen Aajeevika Vikas Parishad (RGAVP) came to Khanva village to form a self-help group (SHG).
The non-profit addressed the women about livelihoods and how they could earn some money by working from home. They also provided training in bag making and tailoring to the rural women. The NGO promotes small and micro enterprises in the areas of farm and nonfarm sectors to enhance the economic opportunities and empowerment of rural poor in Rajasthan.
“About four or five of us began to make bags, mats, tablemats, hand purses and planters,” Brajesh narrated. But soon the business grew and now there are nearly 200 women in the SHG not just from Khanva, but also from other nearby villages.
Brajesh trains these women and gives them enough work which helps them earn about Rs 600 a day.
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Apart from the Rajasthan Grameen Aajeevika Vikas Parishad, the industries department also helped by taking the handmade products to several exhibitions in the state. The women sold their products there and there was no looking back since then.
“In the last eight years, the orders and my income have increased. Depending on the orders, I make about 25-30 lakh a year in the exhibitions and mela where I sell the finished products. Even after deducting the cost of the raw materials and the salaries, I pay the women, I have eight to 12 lakhs in hand,” said the entrepreneur. According to her, November to March is the high season for them with maximum sales of their products.
Her husband Satyaprakash brings the raw materials from different places. The jute comes from Kolkata in West Bengal while textiles come from Surat in Gujarat.
There is quality control in every step of the way, she said. From carefully inspecting the raw materials to the end product and in between. “We distribute the work amongst ourselves. And in the end we closely check the finishing before carefully packing the products,” said Brajesh.
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Susheela, a fellow village inhabitant of Brajesh, has been working with her since the start. “I was home bound and did only household chores, nothing else. But working with Brajesh, I now contribute to the family income, which is a great help,” the villager told Gaon Connection.
“Besides money, working with Brajesh has given me confidence, self esteem, and my relatives look at me with more respect,” Kusuma, another Khanva inhabitant, told Gaon Connection.
“Brajesh has done admirable work in the village, not just for herself but for other women as well,” Kishori Lal, district project manager of Rajasthan Grameen Aajeevika Vikas Parishad, told Gaon Connection. “She has earned name and status for herself amongst her family and in the village. She has not only interacted with the district collector, NABARD officials and other government authorities, but has toured the country,” he added.
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The Rajeevika Mission (Rajasthan Grameen Ajeevika Mission) helped Brajesh out with a grant of Rs 15,000. After which it gave her a loan of five lakh rupees which she has repaid in full, said Kishori Lal.
The Rajeevika Mission provides help to rural women who are members of SHGs by taking them to melas and exhibitions in the state and country, looking after their travel, staying and food requirements there and helping them sell their products.
Hemant Dhakad, District Manager (Livelihood and Skill) of Rajivika Bharatpur said that all the products of Rajivika in the state are listed on Amazon and Flipkart in the name of Rajsakhi and Brajesh Bhargava's products are also included in these.
“Brajesh’s jute products are listed online on Flipkart and Amazon. There has not been so much of a response to them online, but we are waiting and watching,” Kishori Lal said.
Brajesh is confident that online sales will pick up soon.