“I want collective businesses among women to reduce business risk and ensure sustainable income.”
Bharati looks pretty composed and confident when she lists out her achievements. She currently runs three business enterprises in her village apart from helping other women to run their businesses.She has a wide network of women in and around her village due to her 15 years of social services through Self Help Groups, and association with government agencies like Gram Panchayat.
Bharati’s confidence is rooted in her faith that women who successfully run their homes can achieve anything if given the opportunity. But her faith was not always so solid. Bitter experiences in her past should have shaken her confidence.
Bharati who was a state level player till her HSC. But then she was married off in to a family that told her father that they own over 50 acres of land and that the groom was an engineer. Her life took a drastic turn though, when after her wedding, she found out that the family owns nothing and was neck-deep in debt. Her husband turned out to be a laborer and not an engineer.
But Bharati wasn’t one to give up. She knew that entrepreneurship was the only option to make a livelihood in a village that had no private or government jobs to offer. Despite opposition from home, she first took a bank loan and began a grocery store in her house.
Bharati received training under SSP’s entrepreneurship program and has already helped many women in her village to establish their small businesses, to help them to get loans under MUDRA. Now she wants to make at least 50 rural women from neighboring villages to become successful entrepreneurs.
Bharati has also transformed her family’s financial situation.
There was a time when Bharati, along with her husband and a son, used lived in a house made with tin sheets. Today she runs over four businesses and has helped husband who was a laborer to run his own small business of selling spices.
Bharati is often invited by the Gram Panchayat to organize workshops on people’s rights, government schemes for the public and other such matters. The District Business Centre has sent her to West Bengal and other states to do market SHG products.
Bharati’s biggest advice to rural women is to become entrepreneurs.
She firmly believes in the power of women. “Women can achieve whatever they dream of,” she says confidently. “Entrepreneurship is the best option for rural women in villages that hardly offer jobs,” she continues. Bharati wants to help at least 50 women become entrepreneurs from her village and the nearby villages.
Based on her experience and observation of social conditions in villages for past several years, Bharati says, “There are ample opportunities to establish successful agriculture-based businesses in the villages. Many farmers cultivate grapes but there is lack of nurseries selling grape saplings. Women in these villages can establish these nurseries. In the same manner, many farmers and shopkeepers demand organic vegetables and grains. Women can produce and sell bio-fertilizers and bio-pesticides with the training they have received from SSP.”
Agriculture is not the only means of financial freedom that Bharati has in mind. “Rural women always face difficulties in accessing beauty salons. There is a business opportunity right there. Set up a salon, having learned the basics of entrepreneurship. Run any kind of business for which there are sure customers in your villages,” she says.
Bharati is now an expert on the different schemes under which women can get loans to start their own businesses. She is ready to learn the techniques of marketing and thus share her knowledge with other women. She just needs a platform where women can have a wide number of opportunities to run successful enterprises.
Bharati wants all the women around her to be courageous and confident. “I believe women need to step out of their houses and interact with other women to exchange thoughts, ideas and personal issues. That will help them to deal with their fears, and the problems they face at home. Being Exposed to the outside world is will give them the courage to fly. Women have a great capacity to make a happier society.”