Savonnier, The Soap-Maker

How Somawari became Savonnier, the Soap-Maker

This is the inspiring story of a rural housewife and mother who learnt a new skill to chase her husband’s dream.

Somwari Kediyang, 35, was living her life as a wife and mother like many of her rural counterparts in Kayda village of West Sighbhum District in Jharkhand. It was 2012, when she joined Sarjuba Mahila Samuh and stated her journey of transformation. Even Somawari was not aware that one day she would become well-known by the name of a Savonnier (soap-maker) by the villagers.

Somwari became the treasurer of the Sarjuba Mahila Samuh (running under the fold of DAY-NRLM and Jharkhand State Livelihood Promotion Society) upon joining in 2012 and took a small loan of Rs 3,500 from the Sakhi Mandal.

“As I was taking small loans and fulfilling daily needs, every time I attended the meeting I wondered is this the only purpose that we are united in a group? I did not want to continue like this, as I always wanted to have a sustainable source of livelihood,” said Somwari. She was the second wife of Bengra Kendiyang, 50, and due to huge age gap they rarely spoke to each other. However, one day her husband shared that he had learned soap-making in his young days but was unable to do something with it utilize it due to lack of financial resources.

On learning this, Somwari came up with the idea of setting up a small soap-making unit at her home and discussed it with the group members. She was looking for financial help and she was confident that she would get it. She took a loan of Rs 20,000 in September 2017 from her Sakhi Mandal.

She also learned the skill of soap-making from her husband so that she be a helping hand. Today the couple are earning around Rs 1,000 by selling their soaps and other products like washing and bathing soap in the weekly market and supplying to the shops in nearby villages. Somwari’s entrepreneurial streak is such that she is also selling the residue of soap as soap water that can be used as an alternative to regular detergent.

Now, Somwari is planning to scale up her business and also spread the skill among Sakhi Mandal members so that they can explore similar livelihood options. In December 2017 she took a loan of Rs 80,000 under SVEP (Start-up Village Entrepreneurship Program) to purchase an e-rickshaw for her stepson to add another  source of income to the family’s kitty.

The Banker Didi

Amrita Devi exemplifies the silent strength that women possess. Once she set her mind to it, Amrita Devi changed the course of her destiny.

Amrita Devi is a symbol of the silent revolution that is sweeping across the state of Jharkhand. From a housewife who did a little bit of agriculture for a living … to a go-getter who has been honoured by Prime Minister Narendra Modi for her skills … it has been a journey of great success for the 23-year-old from Badajiayatu village of Ghaghara block in Gumla district.

Amrita is among the several women in the state who have benefitted from to the efforts of the government to bring about social transformation by fostering financial inclusion.

Financial inclusion is important to ensure overall economic development of a country. The growth of rural retail banking industry helps the cause by providing financial products and services to people in the farthest corners of the country.

A number of innovative initiatives have been taken from time to time to bridge the gap between the rural population and the formal retail banking system.

One such innovation is the concept of Business Correspondent Sakhi (BCS), run under the guidance and watch of the Jharkhand State Livelihood Promotion Society (JSLPS). Under the programme, an individual is trained to become the interface between the rural poor and the banks. The Banking didi, as she is called, is leveraged to provide support services under well-defined terms and conditions by way of contractual arrangements.

The Jharkhand State Livelihood Promotion Society has adopted the BCS model for strengthening the financial stability of Sakhi Mandal members in rural Jharkhand. Sakhi Mandal members who are working as book-keepers are selected to be the BCS and are trained for the specialized role.

Once trained, she provides basic support services such as customer identification, collection of information/applications, credit appraisal, marketing, account opening, cash withdrawal, deposit, transfer, doing Aadhaar seeding, distributing pension to the elderly, people with disability, scholarships to school children, wage payment under MGNREGA, fund withdrawal under Pradhanmantri Awas Yojana and activates Rupay debit card.

Amrita Devi;s journey of transformation began in August 2016, when she became the member of Jai Sarna Sakhi Mandal. She took loan of Rs.8, 000 for meeting her household expenditure and also for investing in agricultural activities.

Sharing her experience, Amrita says, “The Sakhi Mandal gives me a sense of security. Now, I don’t have to look to others for assistance.  In case of any emergency, I know, my Sakhi Mandal is there for me.”

In March 2017, Amrita was selected to work as a BCS. JSLPS imparted her training, both at the state as well as at the block level. Amrita commenced rendering BCS services to her community people and others who lived in nearby villages. As there was only one bank in her locality, the Jharkhand Gramin Bank, the banking needs of many people remained unfulfilled. This gap was filled by Amrita. Simultaneously, Amrita was also doing the transactions of the Sakhi Mandals.

Gradually, Amrita established herself as a BCS and on an average she did monthly transactions worth Rs 19 to Rs 20 lakh. With the commission earned on every transaction and the honorarium received from the JSLPS, Amrita managed to earn every month anywhere between Rs 14,000 to Rs 15,000.

As time progressed, Amrita decided to branch out and increase her work area. With the support of her husband, she opened a shop in the main market of Ghaghara. The shop provided photocopy and photography services. She charged Rs 2 for photocopying a page, and with an average of 200 to 250 photocopies every day, the couple could manage to earn around Rs. 20,000 to Rs 25,000 per month.

Managing between her household responsibilities and her work was not easy, but Amrita was determined to do justice to both. Her involvement in the work was almost 24X7, but her services in lieu of financial charges started from 10 in the morning and ended at 7pm. Amrits’s day started early at 3 in the morning to ensure that her home did not suffer because of her work. There were times when she would take her two-year-old son with her on work.

“My child is my responsibility and I cannot afford to leave him on anybody else,” she says. However, despite all the hardships Amrita is a happy person today. Sharing her feelings she says, “the love that, I received from the community is a matter of honor for me. If someday, I go to somewhere, then people in my locality wait for me and also start searching for me, for getting their work done. I want to move ahead, serve my people and also earn well for the secure future of my son.”

Usha Kumari, who came to Amrita for withdrawing money said, “Here work gets easily done in less amount of time and also, I am not afraid to come here, as here is minimal paper work.”

Minaxi Kumari, who is a student, shared that she has never went to a bank because bank in the form of Amrita had come to her. Minaxi opened her saving bank account with Amrita and also got her passbook form her.

Urmila Devi, another customer of Amrita shared, “I was frightened to go to banks and even in the cases of emergency, I did not have the courage to go there. This problem has been resolved now, as at any time, I can come to Amrita for banking related services.”

Today, Amrita has made a mark for herself as Banker didi. This is just a beginning for her, as, many more achievements are awaiting her.

A Desire to Make Her Own Identity

Tamanna” a desire to make her own identity, a desire to run her own business. A mobile shop named “New Mobile Zone Tammana” which was a desire of Priyanka Laguri before 2013 becomes the reality when she joined Sakhi Mandal in 2013.

23-year-old Priyanka Laguri is a resident of Balandiya village of Hatgamahria block of West Singhbhum district of Jharkhand. She is the president of “Naar Swayam Sahayta Samooh” (Woman Self Help Group) run under the tutelage of Jharkhand State Livelihood Promotion society.

Before becoming a part of Sakhi Mandal Priyanka Laguri was totally dependent on her parents for her family expenditures. She used to get only 500 rupees per month out of which she managed to save some amount for her husband. In a hope of creating a source of income, she sent her husband to Jamshedpur for a 3 months course of mobile repairing.

After 3 months her husband was placed in a Nokia care center at Jamshedpur on a monthly salary of 3,500 rupees. The amount was not enough to feed a family of 5 members including taking care of a disabled sister after staying far away from home.“We were very depressed that even after learning a skill the amount was not enough to feed our family. Whenever my husband come to home the villagers used to come to our home for mobile repairing. Then we decided to open a mobile shop in our village but the main obstacle was money. At that crucial period of time we get the financial support from Sakhi Mandal” says Priyanka.

She took a loan of 49,000 rupees from Sakhi Mandal for setting up the mobile shop in November 2013.  Today it has been almost 3 years, she along with her husband successfully running her mobile shop in her village Balandiya and earning 10,000-11,000 rupees per month.  Her husband takes care of the mobile repairing and she looks after the other work of the shop like mobile recharge, movie, and song downloading, taking print out etc. “Now we don’t have to go to main Hatgamahria market for mobile recharge and repairing and even for getting clicked a passport size picture for official purpose. We get all these services in our village” says a customer.  Priyanka Laguri also clicks passport size picture from the android phone and give it to the customer after taking print which coasts them 30 rupees for 4 copies. She also most of the accessories of the mobile phone in her shop like charger, cover, card reader, USB etc.

When she was asked about the journey till now she revealed a dark phase of her journey and said “In the year 2016 we both fell ill and handed over our shop to a person after trusting him that he will give us the earning after taking his share. But he neither gave us the money nor refills our shop with the products. That was the time we lose our hope because to restart our shop we again needed financial support and again Sakhi Mandal trusted me and gave me a loan of 25,000 to restart my shop”. She has repaid the amount of 70,000 rupees along with the interest. Now She is unfazed by any ups and downs because she knows that the Sakhi Mandal is with her in her bad as well as good times.

Serial Entrepreneur

Jayanti Devi’s has proved that entrepreneurship is not the sole preserve of the educated and wealthy. It is a natural instinct for some like her.

Name- Jayanti Devi

Bengabad block, Giridih Dist.

Small loan- 14 times

Big loan- 4 times

Enterprises & income :

1.      General Store- 10-12 thousand p.m

2.      Cosmetic centre- 2-3 thousand p.m

3.      DJ Sound equipments- 60-70K p.a

4.      Bricks factory- more than 1 lakh

So far so good…

Jayanti Devi of Bengabad block of Giridih district in Jharkhand is today a symbol of success. She is a role model for many others who want to make it big in life despite all odds.

From a homemaker who could barely make ends meet, Jayanti is today an entrepreneur with four successfully running ventures. Yes, you got it right. She runs not one, not two but four ventures.

And all this has been possible because of the valuable help provided to her by the Sakhi Mandal. The association with Sakhi Mandal transformed her life. The association gave her a new identity and immense confidence. And then began a journey to empower herself and her family in the process.

Her first venture was a general store, for which she took a loan of Rs 15,000. This store became the source of her livelihood. Jayanti fondly remembers the first income she earned from the store. Later, she took another loan of Rs 10,000 to expand the store and today she earns Rs 10 to 12,000 per month from it.

Instead of sitting over the laurels of her first successful venture, Jayanti was soon thinking about the next business that she could start. This time she took a loan of Rs 1 lakh and bought DJ sound equipment to give it out on rent. Thus, without any extra effort and waste of time, she is now adding Rs 70 to 80,000 annually to her income. With time, her business has become established and now she receives bookings for marriage parties and other big events.

Jayanti, who was by now earning quite well, realised that there was a good demand for cosmetic items in the area and there were not many shops. This assessment gave birth to her third venture, a small cosmetic shop. This added Rs 2,000 to Rs 3,000 monthly to her income.

What was more, Jayanti was now providing employment opportunities to other needy members of the Sakhi Mandal.

With three successfully running ventures, one would have thought Jayanti would be happy and satisfied. But that was not the case. Having transformed her life, she indeed was happy. However, the urge to do something more was still very strong.

And this paved the way for her fourth venture, which was a factory to make bricks.

Jayanti observed that there was a very high demand for bricks in the area. After getting the necessary information about brick making and the favourable season for it, she thought of setting up a factory and engaging needy women of Sakhi Mandal on daily wages.

To implement her idea, she initially demanded a loan of Rs 20,000 from her SHG. Her idea of setting up a brick factory was appreciated by other members of the Sakhi Mandal and hence her loan was immediately approved. Today, she engages 3 women along with their husbands in making of bricks on daily wages. They got a total order of 3 lakh bricks from different government schemes like – Indira Awas, Goat Shed, toilet construction under Swachch Bharat Mission. However, because of rain and other natural barriers they could manage to make and supply only around 2 lakh 20 thousand bricks with a profit of more than Rs 1 lakh.

These ventures have made a big difference to the life of Jayanti. Today, she sustains her family, and provides them emotional and financial support. Before joining the Sakhi Mandal, she spent her time doing household work. Sakhi Mandal gave her the opportunity to step outside and explore the world around her. Her children are getting education in an English medium school. She is happy at the thought that their future would be bright with good education. She has purchased a bike for her husband, constructed her house and among her future plans is to buy a Bolero pickup for better service of DJ Sound equipment rental business.

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Journey of A House Maker to An Entrepreneur

Jaanki Purti, a 26-year-old resident of Kendulota village of Khuntpani Block of West Singhbhum is an owner of her own Beauty Parlor “Aleesha” in Pandraasaali Bazar. She is the only bread earner of the family who is looking after 4 members including her in-laws, husband and a seven-year-old daughter.

Today’s scenario of her life is totally different from the scenario in early 2010. She was a house maker used to manage the household chores and her husband was involved in the agriculture activities that were sufficient only for their survival. Apart from that She hardly gets 100 rupees for monthly expenditure from her father-in-law. Her life took a new turn when she joined “Nootan Uprum Mahila Samiti” Sakhi Mandal in 2013.

“Before 2013 I was already in a Self Help Group run by JTDS (Jharkhand Tribal Development Society) but I never felt that push to do something on my own because our group saving was not enough to help us to start our own business. When our group comes under the fold of NRLM and Jharkhand State Livelihood Promotion Society I felt a major difference. It taught me how to took the first step like a mother” Says Jaanki.

She took her first step towards her Aleesha Beauty parlor by enrolling her self in a course of beautician and stitching by taking a loan of rupees 6,000 form Sakhi Mandal. During the course, she used to give services to the villagers so that she can return her loan timely and will be eligible to apply for the new loan. After completing her course initially she took a loan of rupees 30,000 for her dream “Aleesha beauty parlor” from the CIF (Community Investment Fund) of Sakhi Mandal. Now she is earning 7,000-8,000 per month from her venture.

Jaanki is a very Strong woman; she is working even in her 7th month of pregnancy because she doesn’t want to lose her customers. To attract more customers she tries to provide more and more facilities to them as along with the beauty parlor she also stitches cloths and sells cosmetic products at her shop. “Earlier we all have to go to Chaibasa for availing these services which cost us very expensive because it also includes the to and fro transportation charges,” says Manmati one of the regular customer of Aleesha Beauty Parlor.

Once a house maker today is an owner of her own venture. Till now she has taken a total amount of 50,000 for her dream and returned the principal amount with interest timely. When she was asked about the future plans she said “I want to expend my shop, want to give it a new look. I also want to go for an expert beautician course so that I can also be able to ready new brides for their big day.”

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Making Dreams Come True

From Churiwali to the owner of a popular shoe store, Sheetal has come far

Living in a remote village of Jharkhand, not many would dare to dream of starting one’s own enterprise and earn big sums from it. But 32-year-old Sheetal Jarika, a resident of Kendulota village (Matkobeda) of Khuntpani block in West Singhbhum district, was different. She was determined to translate her dreams into reality.

From being a small-time “Churiwali” who would barely earn Rs 1000 to Rs 2000, today Sheetal is the proud owner of two shops, including the famous “Jarika Shoe”, and earns Rs 30,000 to Rs 35,000 from her enterprise.

Sheetal, like many other women in Jharkhand, found a helping hand in the Sakhi Mandal, formed under DAY-NRLM and run with the assistance of the Jharkhand State Livelihood Promotion Society.

Sheetal joined the Sakhi Mandal in 2013. It was the beginning of an association that would eventually change her life.

Unhappy with the sobriquet of “Churiwali”, Sheetal decided to expand her business and establish a new identity for herself. She took a loan of Rs 20,000 from the Sakhi Mandal and turned her small shop of bangles into a big one of cosmetics at a monthly rent of Rs 700.

Initially, her husband did not support her. But as her earning started increasing he realized his mistake and started taking interest in her business.

After running the cosmetic shop with great success for six months, Sheetal thought of opening a shoe shop adjacent to her existing one. But for this venture, she needed at least Rs 50,000 as investment, which was a huge amount.

Since she had already a loan of Rs 20,000 from the Sakhi Mandal, Sheetal decided to approach a bank for her new loan. But the moment they went to the bank, they realized the worth of the Sakhi Mandal. Not only was the rate of interest at bank very high, they also asked for so many papers and formalities that the couple decided to drop the idea of a bank loan.

Just when her hopes were fading, the Village Organization (VO) of her village extended a helping hand to her. After returning the amount of her previous loan, Sheetal took the loan of Rs 50,000 from the VO and once again started a new journey to accomplish her dream and opened her new shop “Jarika Shoe”.

“Jarika shoe” is today a popular shoe shop in Pandraasali Chowk market of Matkobeda cluster. Anyone can find their favorite pair here starting from minimum Rs 80 to the best ones priced at Rs 800.

Sheetal Jarika is now the president of “Singba Mahila Samooh” Sakhi Mandal. It has been almost three years and she has been successfully running both the shops along with her husband in Pandraasali market of Matkobeda cluster. Her monthly income out of the venture is Rs 30,000 to Rs 35,000. Her earnings spike to around Rs 45,000 during the “Mange Parv”, a local festival.

 

Sheetal has till now taken a loan of Rs 4 lakh from the Sakhi Mandal and the VO. Of this, she has returned Rs 3 lakh 84 thousand on time. Her cosmetic shop not just takes care of the beauty needs of the ladies, but also helps them with health and hygiene. It is the only shop in the area from where women can easily buy sanitary pads.

Going forward, Sheetal wants to shift her shops into her own building in the same market. She wants to open a shopping complex and build a training center for the Sakhi Mandal on the first floor of the building.

Given her grit and determination, one is sure that one day she would translate even these dreams into reality.