Boko: Dhriiti: The Courage Within and the InterGlobe Foundation organized Udyamita Mela 2022 at Shanti Nizora Club, Bamunigaon Camp, Kamrup on Tuesday.
The event was organized to celebrate women’s entrepreneurship in the Chhaygaon/Bangaon region and provide a platform for local government agencies such as the Chhaygaon and Bangaon Block Development Office, various local and national NGOs operating in the region, Self Help Groups (SHGs) and individual entrepreneurs to come together, create a strong network and build a rural women’s entrepreneurship system.
The Udyamita Mela also marked the successful implementation of Project Pragati (Arecanut Leaf Plate Cluster Development Initiative) by Dhriiti: The Courage Within and the InterGlobe Foundation in the region in partnership with Tamul Plates Marketing Pvt. ltd The Udyamita Mela congratulated the women entrepreneurs associated with Project Pragati who have completed their 4-year journey of female entrepreneurship.
The program was designed as a learning and exchange space for rural women entrepreneurs. Sessions were conducted by the Bangaon and Chhaygaon Block Office on farm and non-farm livelihoods, financial inclusion and digital finance implemented by the Block Development Office
To introduce the women to relatable role models, sessions were conducted by Ms. Runa Rafique (founder, Blue Planet Amalgamated), Ms. Monalisa Borthakur (founder, Amby Gold, Guwahati) and Ms. Podumi Boro (a local entrepreneur and founder, Yugadrasta Lokabastra). Industry, Bamunigaon) with the vision to motivate more women from the region to choose the path of entrepreneurship.
“This is a momentous occasion for us at Dhriiti. The Pragati project has successfully created a very positive ecosystem for the development of arecanut leaf plate manufacturing in the region. In the last 4 years, the project has established the Arecanut Leaf Plate Manufacturing Cluster with 30 female entrepreneurs with home production and 350 female raw material gatherers and machine operators,” Anirban Gupta, co-founder of Dhriiti.
“This Udyamita Mela is not only a celebration of the women entrepreneurs of Project Pragati, but also of women’s entrepreneurship in the region. We sincerely believe that this celebration and recognition will motivate many more rural women to choose the path of female entrepreneurship in the region,” Gupta said.
“The InterGlobe Foundation is excited to partner with Dhriiti to achieve the goals of economic independence and self-reliance for women in rural Assam. IGF internalizes the fact that independence coupled with a deep orientation to other social issues would pave the way for women to gain decision-making power and voice to manage their commons. Fostering their strengths and leadership skills while promoting natural resource-based small businesses among these women from diverse backgrounds has had deeply satisfying results for all involved,” said Dr. Monica Banerjee, head of the IGF.
Project Pragati – A Brief Understanding
The story of a dinner plate begins with an areca nut palm. Since the surrounding area is dotted with areca nut trees, most women looked to them as the source of Tamuland, whose shell was a waste material used at most to build temporary perimeter walls in homes. When the project first introduced the product to people during the mobilization camps, nobody believed that waste material could be turned into a durable board, a product that has a profitable market not only in India but around the world. Manufacturing an eco-friendly disposable plate goes through a process of leaf collecting, drying, sorting, cleaning, producing, packaging and most importantly marketing, making the whole activity a business for many micro and nano female entrepreneurs.
Dhriiti has worked in the Bangaon and Chhaygaon block in rural Kamrup district of Assam through his intervention, InterGlobe Foundation supported Project Pragati. The project was initiated in 2018 and in the first two phases rural women were involved through mobilization and training in the production of sheets from areca nut leaves. The disposable tableware made from areca nut shells is more dimensionally stable, more hygienic, biodegradable and microwaveable. The product so made addresses the growing concern about the pollution caused by styrofoam and plastic tableware.
The project aimed to improve the income of rural women by adding value to locally and plentifully available raw materials. By producing and selling areca leaf slabs, 30 rural entrepreneurs have been trained and guided to start their nano-businesses. For most women, this is also their first opportunity to own a business and earn independent income in their bank accounts.
In addition, a group of 350 women was trained in the collection of raw materials and thus included in the value chain of areca nut sheet production in the region. Ensuring that rural women can come together, imagine a new economic opportunity and organize the production and marketing of the product. The project operates on the belief that with improved income, independence and identity, women will not only prosper economically, but will also advance their families and communities. Technical and marketing support for the women entrepreneurs was provided by Tamul Plates Marketing Pvt. GmbH.
In 2021-2022, the project was expanded to a multidimensional approach. The project worked to build sustainable systems for women entrepreneurs by setting up marketing links, group monitoring and support systems, etc. Financial systems have been strengthened through monthly savings, soft loans to individual members and planned investments by the SHGs. Various ecosystem partners in the region have been engaged to build and strengthen gender-sensitive support systems.
What is Dhriiti: The Courage Within about?
Dhriiti: The Courage Within is a non-profit organization that has been working to provide sustainable entrepreneurship solutions in different parts of India for the past 18 years. Dhriiti enables entrepreneurship by enabling an ecosystem that recognizes the need to nurture entrepreneurial practices and create systems to ensure they thrive. It aims to shape financially, socially and environmentally sustainable livelihoods for individuals and communities. Dhriiti works with women, youth and communities and has reached more than 100,000 people to date.
Dhriiti works with a comprehensive model that focuses on the development and support of women entrepreneurs in socio-economic and demographic groups. Dhriiti has developed a model for women’s entrepreneurship that not only focuses on building women’s competencies, but also works on many critical enablers or ecosystems in a woman’s entrepreneurial journey. The women’s entrepreneurship model provides a framework that recognizes and expands the roles of these enablers, which include policymakers, various forms of media, entrepreneurial ecosystem actors, financial and technology agencies, and most importantly, women entrepreneur networks or communities.
What is the InterGlobe Foundation about??
InterGlobe Foundation (IGF) – www.interglobe.com/foundation is the CSR arm of the InterGlobe group of companies – a leader in aviation, hospitality and travel services. IGF is committed to building a just, just and inclusive society that uses resources sustainably. It maintains partnerships and supports heritage & culture, environment and livelihood initiatives. The Heritage projects cover both the tangible and intangible aspects of heritage, including the restoration of the tomb of Abdur Rahim Khan-i-Khanan in Delhi and the documentation and dissemination of lost dance forms represented in the historical sculptural motifs of Yakshis, Shalabhanjikas and Alasakanyas.
The environmental projects focus on reforestation initiatives and solid waste management measures. The Community Forestry project in Kalahandi, Odisha is concerned with improving the livelihoods of the tribal communities and preserving the springs that provide water to various hamlets. No Open Waste (NOW) is a waste management activity that creates a model for small towns on the outskirts, based on the experience of working in Kelwara, Rajasthan, which houses the famous World Heritage Kumbalgarh Fort.
The livelihood projects support women’s small businesses with a strong focus on institution and capacity building. For example, Vaishali socio-economic development project in Lalganj, Vaishali, Bihar is holding the hand of 200 women to lift themselves out of poverty by supporting livelihood improvement activities.
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