These rural women became entrepreneurs and helped other women transform their lives

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Skill development has become one of the essential needs of women, as most of them have to find work in unorganized sector. But for most rural women, it comes much later in their lives, as a means of survival, and not as a conscious choice to empower themselves. Nevertheless, the women who took part in the Mahila Mela exhibition-cum-sale organised by NABARD proved that empowerment can happen in myriad ways.

Geetanjali Tripathy, a 52-year-old woman from Odisha, decided to give vocational training to women of her village nearly two decades ago. She didn't call it vocational training back then, but women travelled long distances to learn embroidery and stitching from her.

Realizing the impact of what she had started, she created a self-help group called Swastik. Talking about how things have changed, she said to The Times of India,

We don't depend on our husbands for our income. We are independent. We can now use the money we make towards our children's education.

This was at a time when women didn't even come out of their houses. Hence, initially, it was difficult but around this time, the NGO Hand in Hand came forward to help these women learn sewing toys. As a result, what these women started with just Rs 6,000 now helps them earn up to 50,000 from each stall.

Not just Geetanjali, more than 50 women who had started self-help groups in their states came together to participate in the Mela that was organised in Egmore, Chennai a few days back. Hand in Hand had put up 20 stalls with the help of National Bank For Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD). Fifty-year-old Jagadeeshwari from Pondicherry said to The News Minute,

My son is working as a lecturer in an architecture college and my daughter finished her MBA and is working in a bank. It is all because of the income we received from this business,

Jagadeeshwari's son got admission in the NIT for Architecture but they did not have enough money to fund his education. She started selling Idly powder to people nearby to help pay the fees. She started with nearby shops, but now sells in 10 districts of Tamil Nadu and has even once exported to France.

Though these women had the necessary skills, a lot of them lacked the confidence and business aptitude required to sell their products. But travelling from far-off places and having an exposure like this would go a long way in building their confidence.

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