Women in rural areas have a long working day: they get up very early, carry huge containers of water or bundles of wood on their heads, clean the houses, engage in fieldwork or other hard jobs and care also about the family and houses. This kind of life and work does not leave much time to relax. But some of them have an important meeting point: they are organized in women self help groups.
Women self help groups drive change
Mostly, these women self help groups are supported by local NGOs although it is the women themselves to push these meetings. They are important change drivers in modern India: Community thinking and group spirit, reciprocal support, and an independent internal micro-financing system are elements that encourage women to set up their own business.
The snack maker woman
Today we have met such a woman. She is about 40 years old, married, mother. We are in a small town close to Coimbatore. She expects us in front of her own shop. Her English is quiet good, she is proud of being a shop owner of one of those stores located in the village’s main street – in middle of many male shop owners on her left and right.
We have met a special woman: this is one of the snack-making women who has started her business at home, several years ago. It was not just the snacks alone that led to the success. With a simple idea and an enormous willingness to get out of the poverty she had started with preparing snacks and selling them to neighbors and friends. Later on she could buy a wheat metering and mixing machine, opened a very small store in a secondary area, started to ask bigger shops to buy her products and added other types of snacks and products. She has taken a loan for buying this shop in the main street, as well.
Supported by the self help group and the local NGO(s) she could set up her own business, step by step. She got loans, first from the SHG, later bigger loans from banks – and she could pay them back in time.
She achieved what she never could have reached without a very first fair loan. Without any income probably she would not have even got any loan from external organizations. Or at unfair, destructive conditions. The women Selfhelp group offered her even more: information and encouragement to act.
This woman got a chance to change for a better life. With her cleverness and huge intent to go ahead and to offer a better future to her children and family she is able to pay for a good education to her child. Today, her child is visiting a private school and is going to certify in the IT sector.
Her husband, she says, is proud of her, as well, and has supported her activities…
You are interested to know the future plans of this lady?
Well, her next wish is to have a small supermarket in town…