The pandemic affected each of our lives. It tested us in the biggest and most unusual ways possible. However, for most us, the entire experience has made us stronger. In some way or the other, we have found the strength within us to do bigger and better things. Through our Swabhiman programme, we have managed to help and empower many women even during the pandemic. Entrepreneurship has been one of the major outcomes of the pandemic. Nurturing women entrepreneurs is among the main goals of Swabhiman. With their help, many women have developed their own enterprises too. Here is the story of one such woman, Yashoda.
Before the pandemic, Yashoda was just a regular young woman. She lived with her one-year old child and her husband in Bengaluru. Her husband was a cab driver. However, when the lockdown was imposed last year, the family started facing financial constraints. Soon, things turned bitter.
‘My husband was at home, and always stressed out. With such a small child to take care of, I did not know what to do. I was emotionally and financially distressed,’ shares Yashoda.
However, despite the difficult circumstances, Yashoda did not lose hope. She had made up her mind to fight back. ‘I came to know about the Entrepreneur Development Training programme from Smile Foundation through a community mobilizer. I attended all the training modules they were offering. Meeting women from different backgrounds and getting to know about their problems, I felt I was not alone,’ she shares.
Swabhiman team nurturing women entrepreneurs
The Swabhiman team conducts training sessions for women on various things. For instance, menstrual health, organic farming, cooking nutritious meals, entrepreneurship development, financial literacy, and so on. All these are aimed towards empowering these women. The women engaged with us are able to improve their lives in a number of ways. Many of them become confident enough to take up jobs or start their own ventures.
Setting up an enterprise: Yashoda’s dreams
Yashoda enjoyed these sessions very much. She met other like-minded women through these sessions. They all enjoyed the session and learned a lot from them. Yashoda not only completed the training herself, but also gathered women in her community who were suffering like her. Soon she emerged as a leader of her peer group and set up a business of handmade organic cosmetics with them. ‘Two of my group members are college-going girls. We segregated our work and proposed our business entity. They gave us specific training on how to make lip balm, kajal, bath salts, bath powder and tooth powder. They motivated us so much. I got all my confidence back,’ says Yashoda.
Smile’s team provided them not just with know-how but also with the raw materials they needed to start the business. Yashoda and her team named their business Kadamba Naturals, which is now registered too! She says, ‘I’m sure we will make it a big brand and become financially independent. My dream is to expand my business and train a lot of women like me and make their dream come true.’
Together, the team not only manufactures but also markets the products by themselves.
A source of inspiration for many and a true entrepreneur
Yashoda has motivated other women in her community to start their own enterprises too. Some women are not able to initially arrange the resources for their own business. She involves these women in her own business to help with production.
COVID-19 turned her world upside down, but she emerged as a true leader who has changed the lives of women in her community forever. Doing this for herself has helped her take the first step towards financial independence. Moreover, she has got the much-needed self-respect and confidence back. She is a true change-maker who has overcome her problems. At the same time, she has also emerged as a leader who has motivated others.