Archana Gokul Mane

stories01

“I want to start a cluster of businesses and link them to larger value chains in cities.”

An economically independent woman who runs five different enterprises, Archana is a leader who currently mentors a network of more than 250 women. Her story of success and self-confidence begins with a very painful experience.

Ansurda is a very small and backward village and, even today, does not have basic infrastructure or road connectivity. A few years ago, when Archana was in labor and had to be taken to the hospital, she had to risk the life of her baby by riding on the back of her husband’s motorcycle on a kuccha (mud) road. It was a complicated delivery, and Archana had to go through an enormous amount of pain. Fortunately, her baby was healthy. But she says, “I was not happy because I knew there will be other women who will have to travel under similar circumstances and may even end up losing their lives.”

Archana is struggling even today to get a proper road built and says she will not rest until she gets it done. But the last few years have been difficult as her village has been reeling under intense drought.

Still, with all her efforts, Archana has come a long way. At one point, she could not manage a mere Rs. 150 for her son’s medical treatment and now, she is the Director of a Farmer Producer Company and owns five different businesses. She was recently felicitated by the Gram Panchayat, and she very proudly shared this news with all her friends and relatives. She jokes that her husband recently admitted that marrying her was the best decision he has made in his life.

Archana was trained by SSP on food security through organic farming. Adopting this type of farming has helped change her life and that of other women farmers in her village. According to her, “Women get new ideas only when they meet other women.”

Being the Director of a Women’s Producer Company, she shares a very advanced vision for women entrepreneurs in her village. She wants to start a cluster of businesses and then link these businesses to larger value chains in cities like Pune and Mumbai.

Archana’s vision is to make her village known for its cleanliness. She plans to start a small nursery to grow saplings to plant in her village. She has also initiated the cleanliness drive in her village on 26th January. She is presently creating awareness on waste segregation and disposal and also wants to make her village open-defecation free. Archana says, “I started this drive with only six women but by next year, all the women in my village will be helping me.”