ChildFund India and Citi Foundation celebrated transformation of 700 rural women into Entrepreneurs

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June 28th, 2019,Pune / Mahad, Maharashtra – 33-year-old Sanika, who is today the CEO of Mahad Mahila Poultry Farming Producers Company representing 60 villages, was once restricted to the kitchen and household chores. This 12th grade graduate has come a long way in life. Migration in search of better livelihood is common in their village, Sanika’s brother-in-law is one among those migrants. Her family is mainly dependent on rain-fed agriculture with rains lasting for only 4 months. The meagre income her husband earns by working at a Petrol pump is not sufficient to support the family and educational needs of their two children. Often during family emergencies, they are left with no choice but to borrow money from money lenders at high-interest rates. Things, however, are beginning to change for Sanika and her family. Empowered by the knowledge she acquired through the technical sessions and infrastructure support provided by ChildFund India along with other facilities under ‘Poverty to Prosperity’ Project, Sanika has been able to establish her own poultry farming business and has earned a handsome profit by selling 5 of her mature chickens. Once the remaining chickens are well grown, Sanika intends to sell them and keep 10 chicks to continue the cycle. She aims to earn a profit of Rs 30,000/- over three cycles to support the family income. Her family members are very happy with her achievements and see her as a successful businesswoman. Her opinions now matter in family decisions. It makes her family very proud that people from other villages now know and respect her.

Sanika is one of the 700 young women who have been trained and transformed into entrepreneurs under ChildFund India’s “Poverty to Prosperity- Phase II” project supported by the Citi Foundation’s ‘India Innovation Grant Program’ (IIGP).

After successfully empowering 1000 young tribal women as entrepreneurs in Jhabua, Dhar and Alirajpur Districts in Madhya Pradesh during the 1st phase of the “Poverty to Prosperity” project, supported by the Citi Foundation, ChildFund India again in association with Citi Foundation replicated the project in Mahad, Raigad District, Maharashtra as Phase 2 of the project, which strives to replicate the learnings from the Phase I of the project by benefitting 700 below poverty line rural women aged 18-35 years in Mahad.

Recurrent floods and drought in Mahad coupled with low literacy levels of the community members and lack of sustainable livelihood options forces the community members to migrate out of the region in search of alternate livelihoods, where they mostly end up working as low paid laborers. ‘Poverty to Prosperity’ equipped these women with skills required for creating an alternate source of livelihood in poultry farming and further supported them in setting up the business as well as expanding the same in their own village, preventing migration, hence, protecting them from exploitation.

The project is spread across 44 gram panchayats of Mahad Block at Raigad District, Maharashtra. Before starting the poultry units, the 700 women members were trained on basic poultry management and formed into 47 women poultry farming groups at the village level.

As a result of the project, more than 90% of the women members have opened individual savings bank accounts. A poultry producers’ company has been formed and named as ‘Mahad Mahila Poultry Farming Producers Company’.  40 private traders have been identified and connected with the women leaders for the marketing of the first lot of chickens. Out of the 700 women entrepreneurs, more than 100 members have sold around 50 grown up chickens in the local market since last week of May 2019. Each of the women members have earned around Rs 9000/- to Rs 10,000/- through selling some chickens from the first cycle. The women groups with the support from the Producers Company have planned to start outlets for directly selling the chickens and accessing other services for expanding their business.

Today, ChildFund India and Citi Foundation celebrated their project’s success as it has successfully trained 700 women as entrepreneurs, created 700 new enterprises.

The event was attended by distinguished dignitaries –Shri Bharat Shet Gogawale, Hon’ble MLA, Mahad, as the Chief Guest and Dr.Subhash Mhaske,District Deputy Commissioner Animal Husbandry, Raigad, Dr. Chandrakant. G. Apsinge, Re. Assistant Commissioner of Animal Husbandry, Pune andDr. Archana R. Joshi, Livestock Development Officer Poultry project, Raigad, as the Guests of Honor. Debasis Ghosh, Public Affairs Officer, Citi India and Neelam Makhijani, Country Director & CEO, ChildFund India were also there along with nearly 700 of the project beneficiaries. The highlight of the event was the personal account by some of the beneficiaries who shared their experiences, aspirations as well as future plans for managing and expanding their business.

Neelam Makhijani, CEO and Country Director, ChildFund India said, “We believe, enhancing women’s voice and leadership can lead to empowering of women which in turn will create an inclusive and progressive society. Through this intervention, we have equipped young women with the skills and resources they need to lead a dignified life, enabled them to take control of their lives and to command their future. We are proud to share that the Farmers’ Producers Company which has been formed under the Project’s 1st phase in MP, today has a share capital of more than Rs.2, 35,000/- (Rupees Two Lakhs thirty-five thousand) in the bank, contributed by the primary members. The Producers Company in Mahad will also reach greater heights. We are committed to continue providing support for the women to grow further and sustain their business. We are thankful to Citi Foundation for their support in creating this huge change!”

Debasis Ghosh, Public Affairs Officer, Citi India Cluster said, “The P2P program is aligned with the Government’s ‘Skill India’ mission and Citi Foundation’s focus areas of youth employability and financial inclusion. Citi India, through Citi Foundation has contributed towards this end by supporting youth from low-income households to build financial assets, enabling entrepreneurs to create livelihoods and enhancing the power of the collective to strengthen and transform communities. This initiative connects rural women with economic opportunities through a market based intervention model that is both scalable and sustainable. This program has seen incredible success and has given women the tools to start and maintain a poultry farming business that is reliable, profitable and that fulfills a large market demand. Through this initiative, Citi is not only contributing towards these women’s economic empowerment but is also giving them a sense of independence and agency over their own futures.”