Usually found selling their wares at on ground exhibitions, women’s self-help groups (SHGs) in the city have now found a practical way to help themselves.

Women entrepreneurs from Chembur’s Jijabai self-help group. Pic/Pradeep DhivarWomen entrepreneurs from Chembur’s Jijabai self-help group. Pic/Pradeep Dhivar

Taking a giant leap in their attempt to market their products to a wider clientele, five SHGs have tied-up with e-commerce giant Flipkart, to form a new brand called Hand to Hearts. Twenty four products went on sale on the website this week alone, and the women entrepreneurs are anxiously awaiting orders.

SHGs in the city are run by the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC), the state government, Women’s Economic Development Corporation and various NGOs. Many SHGs have been started and maintained solely by women, who use their earnings to run their household.

In order to give them an impetus, the BMC tied-up with chartered accountant Dipti Tamhane to create Hand to Hearts. “Since the BMC cannot undertake any commercial activity, including e-commerce, we approached Dipti Tamhane, who agreed to help,” said Prachi Jambhekar, assistant commissioner (planning), BMC.

Products sold via Hand to Hearts on Flipkart include kurtis, jackets, shrugs, diyas, bags, purses, wallets and imitation jewellery. “I realised that through exhibitions, SHGs’ products were limited to the city. I wanted to take them to a national level. The products are attractive and professionally made; they deserve this platform,” Tamhane said. She hopes to rope in five more SHGs in the coming months.

Workshop visit
sunday mid-day visited the manufacturing units of two groups in Chembur, women were busy tailoring, embroidering and readying apparel. Dipali Kadam, member, Jijabai Mahila Utpadak Gat, said, “We were trained in tailoring, and are now training others like us. Sales were dwindling but this online opportunity has us fired up again.”

Working from 10.30 am to 7 pm, Kadam’s group makes 400 bags and 300 kurtis every month. All women are paid on a monthly basis. Pushpanjali, established in 1996, has 10 full-time women and others who work part-time.

All of them balance household chores with this work, coming in to work post 2 pm. “We are used to producing hundreds of pieces a month. Given adequate time, we can complete all orders,” said Neelprabha Pawar, a member.