Without finding an option to generate income to meet her family expenses, Saleha’s life was in misery, burdened with a disabled husband and two children.
“I had no work in hand. I was the only breadwinner of my family and I could hardly meet my family needs,” Saleha said, recalling her days of hardship.
She went on: “But after joining UNDP’s SWAPNO project, I began rebuilding my life by working as an entrepreneur”.
Hailing from Lalmonirhat’s Chinipara village, 26-year-old Saleha used to do odd jobs just to bear the expenses of her family. Life was not easy for her as she had to work even in her pregnancy period as her husband was unable to work.
But her life started to change after joining the SWAPNO project. She received training on small business management and livestock rearing under the project.
“After receiving the training, I set up a small shop and started selling food items. With savings, I had bought a cow and goats,” Saleha said, adding that she is now earning about Taka 10,000 per month.
In addition to ensuring financial security, the SWAPNO project helped Saleha understand about women’s rights, nutrition, climate change, health, and hygiene issues.
Realising the importance of education, she is now sending her daughter to school so that her daughter gets educated.
Saleha said she can now take care of her husband and children as she learnt many things from the SWAPNO project. “I don’t have to look back anymore,” she added.
A few days ago, Saleha received a formal registration from Bangladesh Small and Cottage Industries Corporation (BSCIC) as an entrepreneur which encouraged her greatly.
Saleha now plans to expand her business as she wants to ensure a better future for her children. That is why she has been working hard to fulfill her dream.
Since 2015, the SWAPNO project under the Local Government Division has been empowering rural women by enhancing their knowledge and skills who were divorced or widowed or having disabled husbands.
These women were not only changing their lives but also contributing to the welfare of their communities, thanks to the SWAPNO project.
SWAPNO was a social transfer project for ultra-poor women involved in public works essential for the economic and social life of poor local communities, which promoted employment of the extreme poor rural women.
Project officials said the entry point was cash-for-work and building human capital of women engaged in public works, while saving a portion of wages assisted households to move out of poverty, providing seed capital for self-employment, basic household needs and further training and educational development.
Women were counseled and supported to invest these savings in productive assets.
The eight-year project (2014-2021), which ended recently, was implemented in 1,030 unions under 106 upazilas of 22 districts, covering 65,000 ultra-poor women-headed households.