Disclaimer: This is not a regular Women’s Day article that celebrates the day to tell you what you already know.
Rome was not built in a day. Plants do not grow in a day. And women cannot be empowered in just one day.
So today, we’re here to celebrate every other day that pushes us forward towards our goal, how small efforts repeated day in and day out, year in and year out are growing forests & moving mountains.
PLANTING THE SEEDS OF OUR MISSION –
With the Vaazhndhu Kaattuvom Project (VKP) aiming to transform women’s lives in rural Tamil Nadu, we set out on our mission in 2017. To achieve this big picture, we understood from the very onset that we needed to pay attention to the tiniest of details. Our support needed to be continual, personal, holistic and from the root up. A single approach wouldn’t work with lakhs of women and our strategies would have to be as diversified as the women themselves, with multiple touchpoints & pitstops.
THE FEED TO OUR SEEDS –
We believe in not just creating pathways but enabling women & marginalised communities to do the same by themselves – a model that would be self-reliant and self-sufficient, where anyone could reach their potential. Because we know that all people need sometimes is a push.
With assistance from the World Bank, we became a unique Tamil Nadu rural transformation project that develops & drives progress through economic empowerment. We focused on supporting Women, Youth, Self-Help Group (SHG) Members / Households, Tribal Communities, The Differently-Abled and Aspiring Entrepreneurs to become self-reliant business people and a skilled workforce who grow exponentially.
DIVERSIFYING THE FEED –
Our support is diversified to solve the unique problems each woman faces. This constituted –
- Promoting the formation of rural enterprises (of all kinds)
- Creating easy access to finance for business plans
- Facilitating training & skilling people to become self-employable
The project’s focus is on creating enabling environments for promoting and strengthening individual and collective enterprises in both farm and non-farm sectors.
Collective Enterprises include
- Enterprise Groups (10-30 members)
A start-up grant of Rs 75,000/Enterprise Group is released to reduce production costs & increase revenue.
- Producer Groups (30-150 producers)
A start-up grant of Rs 75,000/Producer Group is released to aggregate produces & enhance productivity.
- Producer Collectives (300-3000 producers)
A start-up grant of a maximum of Rs 30 Lakh/Producer Collective is given in 4 tranches on achieving milestones.
For the identified enterprises (nano, micro, & small, enterprise groups, producer collectives) the project supports enhanced financial access through the development of appropriate financial products such as the Matching Grant Program (MGP) through linkages with formal financial institutions, encourages and incubates transformational and innovative ideas through the scoping and piloting of innovations within and outside the project.
This Matching Grant Program (MGP) addresses the issues of the demand-supply gap in lending to rural enterprises. The grant covers up to 30% of the project costs to enhance the sustainability of enterprises.
With Community Farm Schools (CFS) that train farmers in agriculture, Community Skill Schools (CSS) that give you vocational training in scalable local professions such as pottery, handcrafting, tailoring, etc. and skilling through other govt. programs, we endow women with professional training, certifications and mentoring that makes them employable (self or otherwise) and create further job markets.
The Women Livelihood Support Centre (WLSC) is a single point business service provider which provides access to a range business development support services to rural enterprises / entrepreneurs. There are Forty-Two (42) Women Livelihood Service Centres established across project districts.
Through WLSC, We give our technical support that employs the right experts and develops a one-stop centre for enterprise creation with the Enterprise Finance Officer & Enterprise Development Officer.
We plan & deliver last-mile support through carefully trained Enterprise Community Professionals (ECPs) who work at the grass-root levels of the campaign to personally touch women’s lives.
Our Migration Support Centre (MSC) creates a supporting infrastructure and an empowering environment for migrant women & other workers to settle down in decent occupations.
Furthermore, to connect and build a self-sustaining & thriving ecosystem of entrepreneurs and stakeholders, we have established the Co-Creation Centre that facilitates the creation of new enterprises, the building & scaling of existing ones, and easier access to grants as well as markets for both existing and aspiring entrepreneurs.
THE FRUITION OF OUR EFFORTS –
After our project’s commencement in 2017, we’re deeply humbled to say that we’ve been able to touch 3,10,909 women’s lives across 3994 villages in 31 out of 38 districts in TN.
We’ve helped set up 88349 Individual Enterprises, 1000 Enterprise Groups (EGs) with 15,926 beneficiaries, 5000 Producer Groups (PGs) with 2,72,604 beneficiaries, and 53 Producer Collectives (PCs).
We’ve also helped 1,317 Individual & Collective Enterprises get access to start-up grants via the Matching Grant Program from financial institutions.
We’ve helped train 1,64,128 beneficiaries through Community Farm School (CFS), 33,861 beneficiaries through Community Skill School (CSS), 20,384 beneficiaries through convergence, 1,618 people get wage employment, 7,186 people become self-employed and 5,351 entrepreneurs spring up through Enterprise Community Professional (ECP) training.
EMPOWERING WOMEN EVERY DAY, DAY BY DAY –
This International Women’s Day, we celebrate all the women who have grown wings and achieved their dreams despite overwhelming odds and are humbled and proud to help them see progress with our continual support that goes day in and day out.