Women's self-help groups earn Rs 80,000 a day at festival stall

Feb 09, 2013, 02:12 IST | Chetna Yerunkar

The 16 groups were formed under government schemes meant for women from economically weaker sections of society; the BMC, which trained the women, also procured the stall for them at this year's Kala Ghoda fair

They say that wishes aren’t horses. But the city’s black horse has made many a wish come true for the members of 16 women’s self-help groups this year, with their stall at the Kala Ghoda Arts Festival doing more than brisk business and raking in about Rs 80,000 per day. Largely responsible for this dream run is the support provided to these groups by the city’s civic body, the BMC.

The 16 self-help groups that have pooled in their resources to set up their popular stall at the festival this year have been making great strides under the BMC’s wing for the past five years. In fact, it is the civic body that paid for the stall at the festival this year. The groups were formed under various schemes launched by the government to empower women from economically weaker sections, and were implemented by the BMC at the ward level. One such scheme was the Suvarna Jayanti Shahari Rozgaar Yojna (SJSRY).

The women have been selling bags, folders, jute items and imitation jewellery; their block-printed backpacks however are the crowd favourite. Pic/Bipin Kokate

Helping hand
The BMC provided infrastructure to train these women in different kinds of skills and crafts, which they could later use to empower themselves financially. When the groups were formed, each member paid a meagre Rs 50. Today, their goods are flying off the stall racks, generating revenues of Rs 80,000 per day.

“We can’t wait for Kala Ghoda festival next year as well,” said the representative of one of the groups at the stall yesterday. Many of the women, who were initially timid and withdrawn, are now wooing customers from different walks of life, and selling their goods with the confidence of seasoned entrepreneurs.

Their sales are helped by the pocket-happy prices and wide range of colourful and quirky goods on display — block-printed backpacks, jute bags, files, folders and costume jewellery. Sixteen women are managing the two stalls, each a representative of the self-help groups. Each of the groups comprises about 10 members.

Sayli Kambli, one of the members selling folders at the stall, said, “Initially, we had a tough time convincing our family members to allow us to join the group, but gradually they started accepting it. As the monthly income started coming in, we were able to contribute to the expenses met by our families. The best thing about Kala Ghoda festival is that it helped us become more confident. Our fears and inhibitions about interacting with strangers have disappeared.”

Sheetal More, a member selling block-printed bags, said, “There needs to be more such events and exhibitions in which we can participate and earn more revenue every month. This month, we are going to earn far more revenue than we do in other months, thanks to the good sales. I usually earn Rs 6,000 every month, but this month the amount would go up to Rs 10,000. This is the main reason behind our smiles.”

MiD DAY spoke to Salim Patel, one of BMC’s community development officers, who are in charge of developing such self-help groups and facilitating the training for their members. He said, “We have many such self-help groups and we are happy seeing the public’s response to their efforts at festivals like Kala Ghoda. This has given us the encouragement to invest in many such other exhibition-cum-sales where they are likely to make good sales. The files, folders, jute bags and backpacks are the major attraction of these stalls put up by our self-help groups.”

16 women are managing the stall, each a representative of
16 self-help groups. Each group comprises about 10 members

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