AU Udyogini is a major initiative of the AU Foundation aiming at helping women from backward communities to become financially independent. Maa Annapurna Masala is a social enterprise promoted by the AU Foundation to empower marginalised women living in rural areas of Rajasthan. At present, the enterprise has 92 members. Here is the story of one stalwart out of the 92 who has made it big.
Gayatri Devi Yadav started her journey in Maa Annapurna Masala as a Masala Sakhi (saleswoman). Due to her dedication and hard work, she is now working as a leader, encouraging and training several women. A native of Hingonia village, situated in Jaipur District, the 27-year-old Gayatri lives with her in-laws, husband, and two children – a boy aged 5 and a girl aged 2 and a half. She joined Maa Annapurna, considering it a profitable side business. Now, she is a recipient of Maa Annapurna Masala award.
Married for eight years now, her routine entails waking up at 4 in the morning, looking after her eight cows, ploughing her 3 bighas of agricultural land, getting her son ready for school, preparing meals for the family, reaching the Maa Annapurna office at 9:30 am, and leaving the office at 4:30 pm and then on carrying household duties till midnight.
It was not easy for Gayatri to take a call to work outside her home as many opposed her decision. In her village, it is not found tasteful for a woman to take up a job. Gayatri mentions that her success has been the result of the support and help she received from her mother-in-law and husband. She, along with her husband, visited villages around Jaipur on a motorbike during the COVID lockdown. Now, they are no longer required to do door-to-door sales as in the last two years some 40 women have joined as Sakhis (saleswomen) under her. The work she did in her village was also praiseworthy.
Due to Gayatri’s hard work, she was promoted to the position of leader of Masala Sakhis. She has encouraged several other women to join the enterprises. It has helped these women to stand on their own feet and improve their family conditions. With a beaming smile, Gayatri says, “I now receive orders on the call and dispatch the desired quantity.”
Talking about the purity of the spices, Gayatri says, “I believed in our spices since I used them myself before marketing them. At times customers do point out the higher price in comparison to other brands, that’s when I tell them that buying our spices will help women to be empowered “. Talking about her experiences at the enterprise, she says, “She feels so good after interacting with people, attending meetings.” She is now not only equipped with marketing skills but has also been training women like her to become ‘Sakhi’ and empower them to become financially independent.
Gayatri has also been learning basic computer skills and plans to complete her education. She says, “My mother-in-law keeps insisting that I sit for a government exam, but since I didn’t complete my graduation and left in the second year of college, I am not eligible to appear for a government examination.”
Gayatri is full of enthusiasm and confidence. It is this zeal that has helped her reach where she is today. The efforts of women like Gayatri have made Maa Annapurna Masala a successful brand. The total sales proceeds of spices from April 2021 to February 2022 were approximately INR 30 lakhs. This success is a source of inspiration and encouragement for Maa Annapurna Masala women who are determined to grow the business through their efforts.