Our two entrepreneurs Neetu and Nirmala
could not be more different, living in two different areas and having
different lifestyles and cultures. Nirmala is a graduate with teaching
experience in the village school. Neetu is an agricultural labourer who
did not get a chance to go to school. What primarily binds both their
stories is that of entrepreneurship and a zeal to keep learning.
Entrepreneurship has enabled many women across the country like Neetu
and Nirmala to be economically independent, and help their families1. In
this article, we will look at the stories of these two women who brought
about change in their lives and the community.
Devi, IFPE entrepreneur
Neetu is in her fifties, but her age did not
stop her from setting up an integrated fishery and poultry
enterprise(IFPE) next to her house in Rasauli village of Barabanki
district, Uttar Pradesh. After years of struggling to make ends meet as
an agricultural labourer on others’ farms, she decided to build her own
enterprise. Under the Godrej Agrovet Limited (GAVL) project on
Integrated Fishery and Poultry Enterprise (IFPE) , she gathered
information and participated in various capacity-building sessions on
IFPE to build her knowledge and skills. She currently has a pond full of
desi fishes and a poultry farm.
With the help of her elder son, Neetu
recently installed solar panels and also a security camera to keep an
eye on the farm. Her dedication to her enterprise has brought her whole
family to get involved in the business. Neetu shares that the enterprise
has brought the entire family together, and their lives revolve around
the farm. Every night, each family member takes turns to keep guard by
sleeping next to the chickens.. Today, Neetu earns eight times more than
her last work and uses the income to help with her grandchildren's
Devi, Paper Plate Manufacturer
Parallely, in the small village of Mewali in
Mirzapur district of Uttar Pradesh, Nirmala runs a paper plate
manufacturing enterprise. She used to teach at the local government
school in her village and earned as little as INR 3,000 per month. She
lost her job when the lockdown was imposed due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Although she is a graduate, she was unable to find a well-paying job
near her village for her qualifications.
As a member of the village self-help group (SHG),
Nirmala participated in meetings and training sessions held by different
stakeholders in Mirzapur and Bhadohi. When she learnt about various
livelihood opportunities for women, she was motivated to set up her
‘pattal’ enterprise at home. A tech-savvy individual, she learned
through YouTube how to operate the pattal machine. Her enterprise is the
first of its kind in a cluster of 20 villages, and she has a growing
local demand for her products. She is now earning INR 25,000 per month.
Nirmala believes that her enterprise has enabled her to manage time for
work and family, while also encouraging other women around her to follow
their entrepreneurial aspirations.
Both women, regardless of their age,
location, and education, have enhanced their entrepreneurial skills
through capacity building and self-learning. Technology and
entrepreneurship have become a medium of enhancing livelihood for women
entrepreneurs like Neetu and Nirmala. Though Covid-19 is seen as a
hindrance to economic growth across the country, their stories are
testament to more individuals looking at entrepreneurship for generating
income in the local economies.
Aparajita A. Mathew
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