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Vedanta’s Subhalaxmi Cooperative Empowering women, uplifting communities

Jharsuguda: Women are crucial agents of change within rural communities. By empowering and enabling them to make informed choices about their families’ welfare and progress, this has a significant impact on their wider communities as well. Recognizing this crucial fact, the Subhalaxmi Co-operative, a community-based programme of Vedanta Limited, Jharsuguda, aims to promote the socio-economic development of rural women in and around Jharsuguda District, Odisha by providing them with opportunities for building sustainable livelihoods.

The Subhalaxmi Co-operative program provides its members with extensive entrepreneurial guidance and training, along with financial assistance and market access to help them start their own business and become financially independent. As one of the largest women cooperatives in western Odisha, it has 4280 members in 353 Self Help Group (SHG). Training has been provided to 1850 women on farm and non-farm trades over the last 2.5 years, enabling them to establish themselves as entrepreneurs. The initial member registration fee of Rs 1000 has today converted into a Rs 3.77 crore fund base. It is also worth noting that 83% of the loans have been availed for microenterprises and hence more than 1,400 women micro-entrepreneurs have emerged from the co-operative, who are engaged in various farm & non-farm activities.

The benefits of Subhalaxmi’s initiatives have extended to the marginalised sections in particular, as nearly 65% of its members belong to the SC and ST communities. With a focus on capacity building and livelihood promotion, financial services (saving and credit), social development and collaboration & partnership, the Subhalaxmi Co-operative has not only improved the lives of thousands of women but also brought positive changes in the wider community. Not only are these women earning sustainable incomes but are also contributing to the local economy by providing employment to others. Commendably, the microfinance facility provided by the Co-op has generated business worth Rs 37.29 crore since inception.

To scale and replicate this initiative in other areas, Vedanta has initiated ‘Project Subhalxami Udyogini’ with the objective of enhancing  the membership base of the program from the current 4100 to 10,000 members in next 3 years (by 2025). In partnership with the Entrepreneurship Development Institute of India (EDII), the project plans to engage around 70 percent of its members in various entrepreneurship development programs and enterprises. By focussing on training, skills upgradation, and capacity building of at least 5000 members on farm and non-farm trade and entrepreneurship, the initiative envisages enhancing the income of the members by 50% through these efforts.

Partnership and convergence programmes are an integral part of Project Subhalaxami Udyogini, with focus areas such as Scheduled Tribes/ Scheduled Castes (ST/SC), Mission Shakti, Micro, Small & Medium Enterprises (MSME), Information Technology Development Agency (ITDA), and Forest Department lined up.  These partnerships will facilitate a conducive learning environment for the member,  enabling their entrepreneurial development. These efforts have borne fruit over the years, as demonstrated by the journeys of Nalini and Rupsi.

Nalini Patel, a 35-year-old housewife from the village of Gudigaon in Jharsuguda District, was once struggling to feed and educate her children despite engaging in various minor chores to earn a livelihood, while her husband also struggled to make ends meet working as a mechanical helper. However, life took a turn for the better when she became involved with the Subhalaxmi Women Co-operative.

Talking about her journey, Nalini shares that in the early days, it was a struggle as she could barely manage to make a living and that was when Subhalaxmi Co-op reached out to her.   “Through Kalyani SHG I joined Subhalaxmi Co-op. and took a Rs. 2.5 lakh loan to start a stationery shop.” With the support of her husband and the intervention of the cooperative, her shop enables her to earn a sustainable monthly income.

Nalini now earns Rs 10,000 per month which has significantly improved her family’s standard of living. Her success story is one among many, as more than 4100 women have experienced transformation for the good through their involvement with Subhalaxmi Co-op. Today, these women have become economically and socially empowered thereby becoming role models for others in the community.

Rupsi Mehr, a housewife from Kelendamal in Jharsuguda, Odisha, is another beneficiary who has scripted her own success story. “When I was first introduced to Subhalaxmi Co-op, my family struggled daily but I was much worried about not being able to send my two kids to school, while desperately seeking avenues to enhance my family income.” Under the Subhalaxmi programme, Rupsi bought a sewing machine and was the first SHG member to start a tailoring unit in her village. Apart from changing her own destiny, she has successfully provided employment to other people in her village.

She adds “This entrepreneurial journey, which I was reluctant to start initially, became a major turning point in my life. I took mushroom cultivation training from Subhalaxmi and today my monthly income is more than Rs 90,000. This is something I could have never envisaged and it only through the entrepreneurial training and business capacity building prowess provided by Subhalaxmi Co-operative that I have been able to realise. I am grateful for the immense support received from Vedanta Limited, Jharsuguda and hope to inspire many other women in my village to start their own entrepreneurial journey.”

Today, Subhalaxmi Cooperative has emerged as one of the model community-based organizations in Jharsuguda, designed to create a landmark for the underprivileged women of the locality in uplifting their socio-economic conditions and ensuring the livelihood security of their families. It is an excellent example for how businesses can make a lasting positive impact on society. Today, there are more than 10,000 families whose quality of life has been transformed for the good. What started as a small spark in 2008 under the aegis of Vedanta Integrated Jana Jeevika Yojana (a livelihood initiative taken up by Vedanta Limited) has come a long way and established itself as one of India’s largest women co-operatives, inspiring women to pave their own path towards self-reliance and become change agents of tomorrow.

 

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We are a group of professionals providing all-around information of Jharsuguda District.

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