Economic empowerment of rural women – Through small enterprises

Majority of the rural women are landless. Invariably, they work as farm labourers. Sanskriti Samvardhan Mandal, an NGO has helped women of Sagroli in Maharashtra in empowering them financially by providing the needed  credit support in managing their enterprises.

Sagroli, located in Biloli, in Nanded district of Maharashtra, is quite a big village with 2046 households. As per the census 2011, the female population is 3796 of the total 8494. Average land holding is 1.24 Ha. The village depends on rain fed agriculture which keeps them occupied for two agro seasons while leaving them unemployed during other times.

Sanskriti Samvardhan Mandal (SSM) has been working in this area, untiringly in the fields of education, livelihoods, skill development, agriculture and natural resource management. It facilitated the formation of 500 women Self Help Groups (SHG). The Home Science Department of the Krishi Vigyan Kendra (KVK), run by SSM, imparts technical support to the SHGs in Health and Entrepreneurship. The KVK organizes need based training programs  at regular intervals in garments, food processing, farm-produce processing and packaging, back-yard poultry, goatery, dairy etc. The duration of such training programs ranges from 1 day to 3 months.

Involving simple repayment mechanisms, SSM has extended interest free financial support to 5-10 village based small entrepreneurs every year, since 2015-16, to scale up their business.  SSM helped them through financial support and marketing. This has resulted in 20-40% hike in the income of the entrepreneurs per year. This activity was further strengthened through a project, Embrace, supported by Drishti, Mumbai. The project main objectives are: to encourage rural women to start businesses to support their family; to give financial support to needy rural women/youth to start enterprises; to increase self-employment among rural youth; and to reduce financial burden of rural families.

The initiative

SSM supported 42 village based small-scale entrepreneurs through Savitribai Phule Mahila Vikas Mandal since October 2019. The micro entrepreneurs and aspirant women were supported with micro-finance with 3% interest per year as management cost. Role of the Mahila Mandal was to identify such entrepreneurs and do the necessary processing.

A total of 51 women and youth from village Sagroli and its vicinity applied for loan to the Mahila Mandal. The Mandal appointed a committee of three members for selecting beneficiaries. During Oct 2019, the first batch of 15 beneficiaries were identified. Similarly, the second and the third batch with 20 and 7 beneficiaries, respectively, were identified. Thus, the benefits of the project Embrace were extended to 42 beneficiaries.

The beneficiaries, with a legal agreement, were selected on the basis of scope of business, their  repayment capacity and overall background. The loan amount was directly deposited to the bank account of the beneficiaries.

All the beneficiaries were divided into different trades (See Table 1). This included garments (tailoring and garment business; retail (Kirana, General Store, Ladies-Emporium, Bangle Store etc.), Animal Husbandry (Goatery, Dairy and Fishery), handicrafts (Burud) & furniture and food processing (Dal mill, masala making unit, flour mill, oil extraction etc.). Around 35 women started their business in 2019-20 and 7 in 2021.

In the year 2019-20, 16 out of 35 belonged to retail entrepreneurship like kirana shop, barber, electrical shop, mobile shop, bangle store, general store etc., whereas ten  beneficiaries belonged to animal husbandry sectors like dairy and poultry and others were from either garment sector (7) or crafts and furniture entrepreneurship (2).

In the year 2021, 5 of the7 beneficiary entrepreneurs belonged to food processing sector. They started Dal-Mills, Flour-Mills, Masala Making Units, Food Packaging and Oil Extraction Unit whereas, one beneficiary started garment shop and another purchased fish nets for her existing fishery business.

Table 1.  Trades and Enterprises

Sr no. Vocations/Trades Number of enterprises
2019-20 2021
1 Garment 7 1
2 Retail 16
3 Animal husbandry 10
4 Craft and furniture 2
5 Food processing 5
6 Fishery 1
Total 35 7

Categories of loan amount: All enterprises were categorized under various ranges of loan amount.  Under garment trade, most of the (14.28 percent) entrepreneurs were given loan in the range of Rs. 40001 – 70000/-. While only 7.14 percent entrepreneurs got loan in range of Rs. 20001 – 40000/-. Under retail trade, maximum i.e. 21.42 percent entrepreneurs got loan between Rs. 20001 to 40000/- while 9.52 percent were in the range of Rs. 40001 to 70000/- and only 4.76 percent were less than Rs. 20000/-. In animal husbandry trade, 19.04 percent entrepreneurs were benefited by Rs. 40001 to 70000/- and 7.14 percent were by Rs. Rs. 20001 to 40000/- . From food processing sector, 7.14 percent entrepreneurs were benefited by Rs. 40001 to 70000/- while 2.38 percent (1 beneficiary) got loan Rs. 20001 to 40000/- and only 2.38 percent (1 beneficiary) got loan Rs. >70001/-. From craft and furniture trade, of the two entrepreneurs, one entrepreneur (2.38 percent) got Rs. 20001 to 40000/- and another (2.38 percent) got Rs. 40001 to 70000/- as a loan amount.

 Table 2. Percentage of EMBRACE entrepreneurs under various categories of loan amount

Sr no. Vocations/Trades % of EMBRACE entrepreneurs benefited by loan (Rs.) (N = 42)
< 20000/- 20001 – 40000/- 40001 – 70000/- >70000/-
1 Garment 0 7.14 (3) 14.28 (6) 0
2 Retail 4.76 (2) 21.42 (9) 9.52 (4) 0
3 Animal husbandry 0 7.14 (3) 19.04 (8) 0
4 Craft and furniture 0 2.38 (1) 2.38 (1) 0
5 Food processing 0 2.38 (1) 7.14 (3) 2.38 (1)

 It was observed that, 21 of the 35 entrepreneurs, got net profit ranging from Rs. 24000 to 180000 per year (average Rs. 47714.29) from their existing enterprises, while others being first time entrepreneurs did not get any income. After availing loan from project EMBRACE, all entrepreneurs started either new enterprise or expanded their existing business and get average profit up to Rs. 88514.29 per year (range Rs. 24000 to 220000). However, average growth in income of all entrepreneurs was calculated to be around Rs. 40800.00.

Inspiring Cases

Mahadevi Sanjay Kotnod is a very active woman living in Sagroli with her husband and two-children. Her husband is working as peon in a school and has a low salary which was quite insufficient to bear their regular expenses. She made up her mind to join hands to support her family. She is very good at tailoring. She started stitching clothes in her locality. She received a good response. Later, she wanted to rent shop near the market for growing her business, but required one lakh rupees for investment.  She could manage only 50000/- To make up the rest of the amount, she applied to the Sanskriti Samvardhan Mandal for the loan support through EMBRACE project. Now with tailoring, stitching and all general women toiletry, she is running her business very effectively. The name of her shop is “Gauri Ladies Emporium.” Her husband helps her for purchasing shop material from Nanded and Nizamabad. Before setting this shop, she was earning on an average Rs. 1000 per month. Now she is able to earn Rs. 6000/- profit per month. She has become confident and very happy now. She is investing her profit for purchasing more material. She has purchased a counter for the shop through this profit.

Pragati Textiles is a tailoring unit started in 2015. A group of four women named Mrs. Shanta Harale, Sushama Muttepod, Sunita Kolnure and Mosina Korbo started this unit after getting trained by Krishi Vigyan Kendra on different types of bag making. The women started stitching uniforms, different types of bags, kitchen aprons, saree petticoat, sun coats and drudgery reducing cotton picking apron, soybean harvesting mittens for farm women etc. In addition to these cloth articles, these women wanted to keep some women’s daily need items in their shop. But due to lack of space in shop they could not start it. When financial support of Rs. 50000/- was given by DRISHTI under project EMBRACE, these women started their new shop on rental basis in December 2019. They purchased daily need items for women and girls. They purchased more material for making different types of bags. Previously they were earning 150000/- per year, specially by stitching uniforms. Now they are selling material worth Rs. 1000/- on an average, per day. Pragati Textile unit also trained other women. Unfortunately, due to COVID 19 imposed lockdown, they suffered losses.

Further in July 2020, considering the results of soybean hand mittens and cotton-picking coats for drudgery reduction of farm women, a Project on Climate Resilience in Agriculture, running under State Agriculture Department (In Marathwada and Vidarbha Zone) gave an order for stitching 1563 cotton-picking coats and 1606 pairs of soybean hand mittens to Krishi Vigyan Kendra, Sagroli. KVK trained Pragati textile members and 50 needy women from Sagroli and nearby villages on stitching cotton coat and mittens. With leadership of Pragati women, all women worked hard and completed the order within one month. The rate of cotton-picking coat was Rs. 270 while soybean hand mittens pair was priced at Rs. 170. Stitching charges for cotton coat was Rs. 80 per piece and Rs. 50 per pair of mittens. In this way, this group of 54 women who stitched these coats and mittens got a total amount of Rs. 250000/- as stitching charges. Pragati textile group got Rs. 150000/-. They are very happy and want to improve their work in future also.

Madhuri Revanwar

Scientist (home Science)

Sanskriti Samvardhan Mandal’s

Krishi Vigyan Kendra, Sagroli.

Tq. Biloli Dist. Nanded

Maharashtra, INDIA


Recently Published Articles

Women-led farm initiatives

Women-led farm initiatives

By using organic farming methods, developing connections with markets, generating income, and enhancing their own...


Call for articles

Share your valuable experience too

Share This