Prerna Canteen Run by Rural Women in Lalitpur Sets an Example of Self-Reliance

In Lalitpur district of Uttar Pradesh, 6,000 women SHGs have been formed that are providing employment opportunities to rural women and helping them set up their own businesses. Four such rural women run a canteen at the district collectorate.

Jyotsna RichhariyaJyotsna Richhariya   20 May 2022 9:59 AM GMT

Prerna Canteen Run by Rural Women in Lalitpur Sets an Example of Self-Reliance

SHG women serving food to their customers at the Prerna Canteen. All photos: By Arrangement

Sunita Kushwaha used to run a small shop selling idlis (small rice cakes) in her village, which was set up by her late grandmother. Today, the resident of Ranipura village in Lalitpur district of Uttar Pradesh, runs an all-women Prerna canteen at the district collectorate office.

Four rural women from Ranipura village in Jakhaura block have been running the Prerna canteen since January 2020 with an aim to become financially independent. They not only cook hot and healthy food, but also serve it to the customers who throng the canteen to enjoy delicacies.

"Our canteen, located in the main district, helps me earn around five thousand rupees every month," 30-year-old Kushwaha, who has been running the canteen for the past two-and-a-half years, told Gaon Connection.

Kushwaha lives with her husband and two daughters in Ranipura village and daily commutes 20 kilometres to her workplace (Prerna canteen) at the district collectorate. Along with all her daily household chores, she works at the canteen six days a week. "I mostly cook South-Indian food at the canteen," she said with a smile.

The canteen serves South- Indian food like dosa, vada and idli at an affordable rate to the government workers and officers. "Initially we were a little reluctant to start a business as we have never stepped outside our homes to work in big towns and cities, but our families supported and encouraged us," Durga, another woman who works at the canteen, said.

The canteen was allotted on a monthly rent of Rs. 7,000 to these women from the Self Help Group (SHG) of Ranipura village in Lalitpur under a project by the Uttar Pradesh State Rural Livelihood Mission. All the four women who run this canteen earn five thousand rupees a month.

"The SHG helped us to get a loan of Rs 70,000 to buy the required machinery and raw materials to run the canteen," said Kushwaha.

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SHGs getting support under NRLM

Under the Deendayal Antyodaya Yojana – National Rural Livelihood Mission, rural women from SHGs are also formed as an Internal Community Resource Person (ICRP) team to mobilise the idea of collectively working to become financially independent.

Prerna Canteen at Lalitpur Collectorate

In Lalitpur district, which falls in the drought-prone Bundelkhand region, around 6,000 SHGs have been formed that are providing employment opportunities to rural women. Of these, around 3,000 SHGs work with the anganwadi centres in the distribution drives of dry ration, whereas women from 317 SHGs maintain the public toilets.

Prerna Canteen: An inspiration and a source of livelihood

The name 'Prerna' for the canteen was collectively decided by these SHG women as they feel inspired and believe other women will also get inspired to step out and become self-reliant and work.

"Apart from customers visiting our canteen, we also get bulk food orders from schools and other government offices, which helps in additional earning," said Dhanlaxmi, a member of the SHG who works at the canteen.

For Dhanlaxmi, this canteen is a crucial source for family income and education of her two sons.

"My husband works as a migrant labourer in cities and comes home once in two-three months, we both earn to run the house," she said.

Customers enjoy a South-Indian meal at the Prerna Canteen.

Twenty-nine-year-old Durga also works at the Prerna canteen and is the main breadwinner of her family that includes her mother-in-law, husband and a daughter.

"My husband works as a cobbler in our village. This canteen has helped me support my family," Durga told Gaon Connection.

Also Read: Towards Gram Swaraj: Gangakhedi village in Jhabua leads with decentralised planning

"Total eight canteens run at different levels in Lalitpur district, which are managed by various SHGs. We cover more than six thousand SHGs, where we provide them with skills to start their own businesses," Ravi Dubey, Lalitpur's District Mission Manager, told Gaon Connection.

This story has been done as part of a collaboration with Transform Rural Indian Foundation.

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