A tale of two mothers & daughters: en route to financial independence
May 13, 2023
In the picturesque village of Harekala Panchayat in Dakshina Kannada, Nalini's day begins amidst the joyful chatter of children at the vibrant village Anganwadi. The 47-year-old government school teacher at the South Karnataka Anganwadi had found contentment in her modestly paying job while caring for her family.
However, everything changed in November 2021 when her eldest daughter, Pooja, a recent BSc graduate from Mangalore, discovered UNDP's Entrepreneurship Development Training – a transformative five-day course introducing the fundamentals of entrepreneurship.
Pooja, eager to find employment after graduation, saw the potential in the course and convinced her mother to join her. Little did they know the dormant ideas waiting to be sparked within them.
In many societies, women face discrimination and are disproportionately vulnerable. Unequal gender roles often limit their chances of financial freedom. Globally, women have fewer economic opportunities. Less than half of all eligible women participate in the labour force, compared to 75 per cent of men. Women are also more likely to work in informal employment and in vulnerable, low-paid, or undervalued jobs.
Since 2020, UNDP India along with the government and partners has been working towards enhancing entrepreneurship and fostering women and youth innovation under its flagship programmes - Code Unnati and Project Excel.
Code Unnati – a partnership with the Government of Karnataka works to provide improved access to entrepreneurial opportunities and employment for 20,000 youth and 5,000 women across three districts of Karnataka — Bengaluru Rural, Dakshina Kannada, and Raichur. Project Excel aims to create better access to entrepreneurship, employment opportunities, and social protection for 10,000 families across the districts of Jamnagar and Devbhumi Dwarka.
For Nalini, a school dropout, it had been decades since she last stepped foot in a classroom. This time, fuelled by her daughter's support, she entered with a newfound enthusiasm. Together, they delved into business concepts, exploring their strengths, understanding the market, calculating break-even points, managing profits and losses, learning to save, cut costs, create a brand, label products, market effectively, and engage with customers.
They even gained insights into the necessary paperwork for Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) and Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSME) registration, critical foundations for building a trustworthy brand. Nalini shares glowing with confidence, "The course instilled a belief in me that I had never experienced before. Suddenly, I felt capable of achieving so much more."
Inspired by Pooja and supported by UNDP's guidance, Nalini embarked on a pickle-making venture in 2022. With an assortment of flavours, including lemon, mango, and mixed vegetables, she bottled and labelled her creations under the name "Pooja Pickles." These delectable treats, sold in small 250 gm bottles priced at ₹50, quickly gained popularity among nearby stores. Presently, Nalini sells over five kilograms of pickles each month earning upto ₹3,000. She plans to diversify into local delicacies such as fish pickles, spicy rice mixes, and hand-rolled papads (wafers).
Meanwhile, Pooja, armed with newfound confidence from the Entrepreneurship Development Training, registered for a job fair organized by UNDP in Mangalore. Excelling in her job interviews and skillfully negotiating for herself, she secured three out of the seven positions she interviewed for, choosing the most lucrative opportunity.
Today, she proudly serves as a customer service executive for a prominent conglomerate, earning a monthly salary of ₹16,000. Pooja beams with pride, sharing, "I am the first woman in my family to work in an office and bring home a salary. Everyone is proud of my accomplishments."
A few years ago, Pooja and Nalini's humble home, constructed with mud walls and a thatched roof, succumbed to a devastating storm. Their family income, primarily dependent on Pooja's father, a mechanic, fell short of affording a new home. However, fuelled by their newfound skills and unwavering determination, the women took a courageous step and secured a loan of ₹11,00,000. Today, they celebrate the completion of their new home, a testament to their resilience and hard work.
Pooja proudly declares, "This was our dream. My mother and I worked hard relentlessly to turn it into reality."
In the rural district of Jamnagar, Gujarat, 1,600 km away a similar inspiring story is unfolding. Meet Manishaba Jyendrasinh Vadher, a determined 23-year-old who had been teaching tuition lessons to school-going children in her village. Driven by her aspirations, she
sought more opportunities for herself and her family. When she heard about Entrepreneurship Development Training last April, Manishaba eagerly enrolled herself and her 58-year-old mother-in-law, Vasanba Ramsingh Vadher, a dedicated dairy farmer. Together, these enterprising women committed themselves to the week-long training, acquiring valuable business acumen.
With the guidance and mentoring of UNDP, Manishaba wasted no time and immediately launched a canteen and a stationary shop. In March of this year, she further enhanced her employability skills by enrolling in UNDP's 21st Century Skills Training held in Vadinar. Today, Manishaba's income streams are diverse and promising, as she supplies snacks and refreshments for events in Singach Village, alongside managing her tuitions and a cloud kitchen.
Meanwhile, Vasanba, empowered by her newfound knowledge, took a bold step and expanded her dairy business. With four cows and two buffaloes under her care, she now proudly earns a handsome sum of ₹30,000 per month from her thriving milk business.
"I have realized that the more I learn, the more I earn for my family," Vasanba shares, aptly capturing the sentiments of women everywhere.
(With inputs from Shriya Mohan and Jitendra Garva)