The contribution of rural women entrepreneurs that were earlier neglected in the Indian economy is certainly gaining praise these days. The rural women of India have not only established their businesses but are also empowering other women along the way. The women these days are hungry for learning, getting trained, and gaining formal skills to articulate their ideas. Out of approximately 60 million entrepreneurs, 8 million entrepreneurs are women. This proves to be an effective strategy for fixing rural and urban poverty in India.
A recent research study by McKinsey Global Institute suggests that by 2025, India’s GDP may increase up to 18% over the business front just by providing equal work opportunities for women.
Even though it is an average number, with successful women entrepreneurs even in the rural areas of India, a higher percentage can be expected. Whether it is a patriarchal societal norm, lack of motivation, education, or funds, women entrepreneurs from rural India are breaking all the societal barriers and continuing to prosper.
Here are some of the successful rural women entrepreneurs who have been changing mindset, breaking stereotypes, and empowering other women.
Ruma Devi, the President of the ‘Gramin Vikas Evam Chetna Sansthan’ has been responsible for making 22,000 women across 75 villages of Rajasthan financially independent by providing them training in embroidery, patchwork, and mirror work. Her NGO organises artisan awareness programs where they explain fair trade, wages, and women’s rights and also focuses on social issues, including child marriage, domestic violence, malnutrition, and girl child education. She was also honoured with “Nari Shakti Puraskar 2018.
Pabiben Rabari invented the first of its kind all- women artisan enterprise called pabiben.com with her unique discovery of embroidery art form called ‘Hari Jari’. Her vision was to develop a powerful, viable business standard for the tribal women of her village; as of 2020, she has been responsible for employing 120 families of her community. Pabiben.com designs have been recognised worldwide, including US-based Smithsonian Institution, Bollywood and Hollywood.
Kalpana Saroj established an NGO to provide knowledge about the various government loans and schemes available to underprivileged people. Soon after a few years of struggle, she built up a real estate business, opened her film production company, and then was on board as the chairman of Kamani tubes after she bought the company’s distressed assets and turned them into profits.
Gunavathy Chandrasekaran is the owner of a quilling brand called Guna’s quilling. She has tutored more than 2,000 artisans with the workshops, which included women, homemakers, students, and children in orphanages. As a quilling expert, she has been awarded the Woman of Excellence Award by the Lions Club of Thirunagar and the District Award by the Government of Tamil Nadu and felicitated by The British Council.
Godavari Satpute established her business called Godavari Akashkandil company, which turns waste material into decorative paper lamps with a motive to enable women from underprivileged backgrounds to become financially independent. Within four years, she achieved the label of YBI Woman Entrepreneur of The year 2013 and was honoured by Barclays at the YBI Young Entrepreneur Awards in London.
Anita Devi established an organic mushroom cultivation business called the Madhopur Farmers Producers Company, changing the fortunes of hundreds of women from neighbouring villages of Nalanda district of Bihar by persuading them into mushroom farming. Due to her accomplishments, the state agriculture department declared her village Anantpur as Mushroom Village.
Anita Gupta is the founder of the Bhojpur Mahila Kala Kendra that provides education and employment training to women from rural areas. She has been responsible for training more than 25,000 women in almost 400 skills. She also created approx 300 women self-help groups in Bihar, which produce and sell jewellery at government-organised fairs, and many Indian metropolitan cities.
Sobita Tamuli established an organic manure brand called Seuji. She created an all-women self-help group that manufactures and sells organic manure, as well as traditional Assamese japis. Her main motive is to persuade visitors to smaller markets such as her village in Assam and improve the rural economy.
These women, however, are not the only women who have fast emerged as potential entrepreneurs and are working towards women’s advancements. There are many more such women from remote areas of India who are shedding traditional moulds and trying to popularise the practice of using organic and sustainable products globally. This move has led to significant social and economic changes bringing them opportunities for growth and remarkable success.
Unequivocally, the fact that Indian women are considered as Shakti (power) is evident by the efforts they have been putting in to make the optimum use of resources and learnings available to them. The initiative to explore more, to discover and prove their talent is getting them direct corporate exposure. They are yet to embark on a long journey, but we can still say that there is greater acceptance and recognition on the doorsteps of women.