'Rozgaar Kendras' promote rural entrepreneurs in UP's Aligarh
From mentoring rural entrepreneurs to facilitating linkages and aiding them with technical training, the enterprise facilitation centres (EFC) or the ‘rozgaar kendras’ have helped set up telemedicine facilities, tuition centres and beauty parlours in rural pockets of Aligarh in Uttar Pradesh.
Ashish Anand 6 Oct 2022 8:03 AM GMT
Ever since she heard of a non-governmental organisation's (NGO) plans to train rural women to become beauticians, Saroj, a 36-year-old rural resident from Pipli village in Uttar Pradesh's Aligarh district aspired to own a beauty parlour. Her dream was realised in April this year when she received beautician's training for a month which helped her launch a salon in her village.
The 36-year-old now earns Rs 300-Rs 400 per day with additional income during festive season and weddings.
"During training, I learned threading, party make-up, bridal make-up, and henna designing. After completing the training, I invested Rs 50,000 and opened a beauty parlour. I was mentored at every step, from budget estimation to set-up and its promotion," she told Gaon Connection.
Saroj is a member of Jeevan Jyoti CLF, having around 3,000 members, supported by Transform Rural India Foundation (TRIF), a Delhi-based non-governmental organisation working to promote rural livelihoods across the country.
Rozgar Kendra initiative was launched as a pilot in October, last year, with 2 CLFs each in Dhanipur and Tappal block of Aligarh district. It not only provide employment to rural residents but also provide training, counselling, promotion, and hand-holding support to women entrepreneurs who have an enterprising idea, and are part of cluster level federation (CLF).
The idea is to make CLFs capable of supporting its members for setting up small enterprises for their livelihoods, by having required capacities, resources and systems for doing that, thus these centres are CLF co-located and built mostly on their own capacities. The CLFs are envisioned as strong, sustainable, independent organizations supporting its members for their well-being including livelihoods, and the EFC as one of its wings/verticals supporting women entrepreneurs.
Women empowerment to boost rural livelihoods
Saroj told Gaon Connection that ever since she has begun contributing to the household income, restrictions that kept her mostly inside her house have gradually ended.
"I am from a farming household and earlier used to do work in my agricultural field. We women were not allowed to speak loudly even inside our home. But, in recent years, things have changed," said Saroj. "I started going out after joining a local swayam sahayata samooh [Self Help Group]. Now, I am doing my own business, contributing to my family income. The elders in my family have changed their outlook towards me," she added.
Mansoor Naqvi, senior programme manager at TRIF, told Gaon Connection, "So far, there are 20 such beauty parlours that have been set up and are aiding the livelihoods of rural women".
"Same is the case with other models that have been conceptualised to empower rural residents. The other two models that we have developed are Arogya Mitra and Rural Tutor to provide good quality medical and education facilities at a low price in the village itself," he added.
Arogya Mitra at Telemedicine Centres
Apart from beauty parlours run by rural women, the project to boost rural livelihoods in Aligarh also includes telemedicine centres which not only provide livelihood opportunities to the operators of these centres but also enhance the healthcare facilities in the rural areas.
The project involves the setting up of a telemedicine centre in which medical professionals from far-off cities can provide medical advice and take stock of the health of the rural residents. At present, there are a total of six such telemedicine centres in Tappal and Dhanipur.
Vijender Singh, a resident of Atari village in Aligarh's Tappal block is one such telemedicine centre operator who is earning upto Rs 15,000 from the centre.
"We are popularly known as Arogya Mitra after undergoing a 10-day long training which involves the use of a thermometer, check blood glucose, check blood pressure, oxygen levels etc. The training was given by a doctor which was organised by the rozgaar kendra in February this year," Singh told Gaon Connection.
"The fee for each patient is Rs 130 in which Rs 100 rupees goes to the medical services company which arranges the doctors for telemedicine and I get Rs 30. Earlier, patients had to travel to the nearest town for a small illness, and after paying Rs 500 rupees they have no option rather than waiting for their turn in long queues for hours," he added.
The rozgaar kendras have also helped people from education backgrounds to set up tuition centres in rural areas.
Mamta Prajapati, incharge of Tappal block EFC told Gaon Connection, "Rural tuition centre is an initiative to provide top quality education in villages and generate employment as well. We opened two rural tuition centres recently and tied-up with Akshar Foundation." Akshar Foundation is a Bengaluru-based start-up by IIT professors, aimed to provide quality education to rural communities".
"These tuition centres are facilitated with projectors, speakers, microphones, and broadband internet to provide online tuition where teachers of Akshar Foundation teach and groom rural talent. Each centre is run by a rural tutor who has teaching experience," she added.
Vinod Kumar, a 37-year-old resident of Manpur village of Tappal block is one such tutor who has been tasked with the technical operations at the tuition centre.
"I wanted to open a tuition centre in my village but Mamta ji suggested that I open it at the block headquarters so that I can get more students from other villages too. I rented a room with the investment of Rs 50,000 and got a six-month free subscription of Akshar Foundation with the help of rozgaar kendra and I am looking forward to recovering my investment in six months," Kumar told Gaon Connection.
This story has been done as part of a partnership with Transform Rural India Foundation.