Success Stories

September Newsletter 2021

Dreaming with Maa Annapurna Masala

Anjana is a resident of Gumanpura Village in Rajasthan. She lives with her 2nd husband, a 10-year-old Son, and in-laws. After the sudden demise of her 1st husband in 2015 due to a prolonged illness, she was pressured by her family to get remarried to her younger brother-in-law. Two years after her marriage to her 2nd husband, he suffered an ailment and is bedridden since the first wave of the pandemic. Being a daily wage earner, he couldn't make up for any savings, hence, to continue affording his treatment and managing the household expenses became tough for Anjana. Even she could not afford to send her son to school.
Seeking the opportunity to improve her child's life and family conditions, Anjana, a housewife solely concerned with domestic duties till then, suddenly faced with the prospect of becoming the breadwinner in her family and decided to step out of the house. She joined a local SHG in her village, which she got to know from her neighbor. The SHG is run by a group of 15 women supported by Gram Chetna Kendra, and they could save up to Rs 100 a week by doing local work. This was enough for her to start a journey towards earning.

Still, things were not easy because she could not fund her husband's treatment and her son's studies. She also decided to explore other groups in her village and finally landed up in one group working with the AU Foundation's Udyogini program. Anjana along with her fellow women decided to approach the Udyogini program of Masala making and hence with the help of GCK held the meeting with Foundation people to commence a business involving spices (making and selling coriander, chili, and turmeric powder) under the Sustainable Livelihood Through Group Activity initiative). The activity excited the women and hence they decided to be a part of it. Soon they developed a business plan for preparation and marketing activities of Masala. They spent some extra hours developing their skills in spices production and the use and maintenance of machinery. They also learned the know-how of banking, digitalization, accounting business, and marketing.

With their constant efforts to prepare Masala,after a month, they were able to establish five centers of Masala production. The first batch of Masala production started, and women- initiated sales at the village level. They could not sell a single packet of Masala as the response of villagers was not at all inviting. While talking to Anjana, she revealed – "The women who prepare Masala suffers from monthly periods and will keep working during that time also. According to the villagers, they cannot prepare food with the Masala touched by women during their menstruation days and hence not interested in buying it". Even Anjana's family felt the same. This brought no sales to them for another month. The women decided to interact with the community personally by visiting door to door and prepared a Nukkad Natak to educate people during the local fair. They also presented paper cuttings and local news to make people understand that their spices are pure compared to what is sold outside. They were determined to win the trust of their families first and later the people from the village. Finally, one family decided to purchase Masala from them, and after that they were able to garner a positive response from others. Still, they were not able to make a good profit and hence worked on planning things strategically.

The trend continued for a year, and with constant improvements in the strategies, the women were able to expand their business to the district level, with regular income flowing to them. This helped Anjana earn Rs 5000 a month and fund the treatment of her husband which suffered for a year, and got her son enrolled in a private school. Even other women who were part of this group started to save their monthly income.With the help of the AU Udyogini program, the women have been able to sell 14529 kg of spices, amounting to over 28 lakhs in the last sixteen months. Anjana is one of the most hard-working members of this group now, and her sheer dedication towards learning new tactics for business resulted from her being the leader of the group. Her commitment and passion for taking this business forward have been fascinating. She starts her day early in the morning and stops just before sunset. Her day starts and ends with making and selling the spices. This is the only way in which she gets food and nutrition for her family. Anjana is taking small steps towards beating the economic crisis. She now helps 80 women like her run this business and is Vice-Chairperson of Maa Annapurna Masala Products. Even her family now supports her with spices selling at a local level and her equation with her mother-in-law is going more robust.Dreaming ahead:Today, the business is run by a core group of 15 women, and Anjana is one of the leading Udyoginis supporting 80 other women to become self-sustaining. Anjana is an example of how through our AU Udyogini initiative, we intend to help women discover their talents and become self-confident.This life-changing decision of women have instilled in them the confidence to reach new heights. The group intends to take the business to the national level and encourage other women to move towards self-reliance.

Vikas Saini
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