They don't wear blazers, but these women run their own ventures

Thousands of women are earning their own livelihood after joining self-help groups that are helping them to be self-sufficient and financially independent

Ranvijay SinghRanvijay Singh   20 Sep 2019 9:48 AM GMT

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"I have bought my husband a bicycle from my earnings. I also pitched in financially for my son's wedding," said Chandra Kumari proudly.

Chandra Kumari, a resident of Mujasa village in Lucknow's Malihabad block, is one of the several thousands of women who earn their own livelihood after joining self-help groups (SHG). She is the secretary of Laxmi Swayam Sahayata Samuh. This group has a total of 10 members who are all woman farmers and do nursery business.

Chandra Kumari said: "Laxmi Swayam Sahayata Group was established in 2014. We were already doing nursery business prior to that although our formal training in the field began only after the formation of the group. Equipped with the training, we embarked on the scientific functioning of the nursery. Previously, I operated a nursery in one bigha of land while currently, it is in three bighas. The plants that I have grown in my nursery can easily fetch me Rs 8-10 lakh. Before the group association, I could generate only up to Rs 50,000."

Lucknow's Malihabad is best-known for its mangoes. Several varieties of mangoes are available here. Due to this, farmers in the region do nursery farming. Mujasa village has about six self-help groups of women doing nursery farming. They all grow fruit-bearing trees, like mango, lime and guava, and sell them.

However, Laxmi Swayam Sahayata Group's women complain that despite their plants being ready there aren't many major buyers purchasing in bulk. They retail their plants and mostly earn well but sometimes have to sell at the input cost and be satisfied.

Answering the question to what they stand to lose they say they don't lose any sum. It is just that bigger volume of sale would translate into better profits and bigger income to ease the cash flow. They informed that recently under MNREGA, their plants had been sent to Bakshi ka Talab block, it would have been better if more such orders were given.

Many women are earning their own livelihood after joining self-help groups.Many women are earning their own livelihood after joining self-help groups.

Meena Kumari, another member of Laxmi Swayam Sahayata Group, informed: "The biggest benefit of the group is that whenever we need money we can take it from the group at an interest of 2%. We create the funds from our savings and upon requirement raise it in group assembly and get the money. We return the money well in time." Women of the self-help groups maintain compulsory monthly or periodic savings with the group.

She added, "Doing nursery business has given us a unique identity among the villagers. People refer to us as businesswomen which we like. We help run our household by contributing to our incomes and thus receive respect. All members of my group are now self-dependent. Dependent upon our families before the group formation, we now are able to earn on our own."

Under the National Rural Livelihood Mission (NRLM) about 56,34000 self-help groups are operating across 691 districts in the country. Out of these, about 2,99000 operate within Uttar Pradesh. Malihabadblock has 282 self-help groups. Women associated with these groups may take up varied activities for their livelihood.

Malihabad's Assistant Development Officer Mallik Masood Akhtar asserted: "Laxmi SahayataSamuh is an extraordinary group. It has worked exceptionally well. Chandra Kumari has about 50,000 mango trees. We have sent many of her trees to Bakshi ka Talab under MNREGA. We are also trying further to send her trees to more such places. Besides they have open markets to sell their trees."

With the help of self-help groups women grow fruit-bearing trees, like mango, lime and guava, and sell them.With the help of self-help groups women grow fruit-bearing trees, like mango, lime and guava, and sell them.

How groups may be formed?

He informed, "Those women who feature in the Below poverty line (BPL) List may together form the self-help group. Thereafter they should adhere to the group's regulations—name their group, arrange its meetings and discuss the amount to be saved. The group so formed would be put on the MIS then by the block-office."

"If the group works well consistently for three months—weekly meeting, weekly savings, mutual exchange, timely repayment of loans, proper records of meetings—the state government would grant an additional Rs1,500 to the group's saving account besides providing credit linkage worth a lakh rupees. This sum can be utilized by the women to start different jobs."

He added:"Six months thereafter, the group is given a CIF Fund of Rs 1,10,000 as the group's money. The group members can draw loans out of this fund at the interest of 2%. Members may draw money for their businesses and return it on time. In this way, financial help is extended to the members so they may opt for various means of livelihood."

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