Vanita Salunkhe has been running her cloth bag manufacturing unit in Degaon village in Satara for almost eight years. This year, she completed the one-year ‘Deshi MBA’ programme run by the Mann Deshi Foundation, that works to empower rural women. Equipped with the new skills she learned, she now plans to expand her business further, to provide employment to 1,000 women, by 2022.
This Saturday, she received her certificate at the annual festival of the foundation, along with 18 other women ‘graduates’, who were mostly school dropouts, with formal education only up to the 8th or 9th grade. The ceremony also showcased countless products of entrepreneurial ventures by the rural women in Satara, along with the school bags, shopping bags, and more, manufactured by Salunkhe.
Deshi MBA is a mentorship programme that not only helps rural women entrepreneurs learn the skills required to run a business, but also sustain its expansion and growth. As such, it provides extensive training in financial management and business development, besides connecting them with several marketing platforms, as well.
The programme operates 13 business schools for rural women in areas like Satara, Pune, Chiplun, Nashik, Latur, and Sinnar. In addition, it also operates nine mobile school vans, a few of which are also equipped with ATMs to encourage their digital literacy.
Vanita Shinde, chief administrative officer of Mann Deshi Foundation, said, “We help them with marketing, banking, printing pamphlets and visiting cards, corporate partnerships where they can market their products and we also have a tracking system whereby we know the progress of all the women entrepreneurs undergoing our programme.”
Renuka Ghorpade from Koregaon taluka of Satara and Jaywanti Bhoye of the tribal Peth taluka in Nashik, were also recipients of the certificate. While Ghorpade had begun her business selling lassi on a handcart, she today has a rented space of her own, where she sells pani puri, almond shakes, and many more snacks.
Bhoye, on the other hand, had started and selling ‘Nirgudi Oil’, a medicinal massage oil made using wild-growing herbs found in the forests near her village of Bhoipada. However, she had no idea how to properly run her business, with no knowledge of where to buy the bottles from, or how to make the labels. Today, Bhoye is the president of the Mahalaxmi Self-Help Group, and along with its secretary, her business partner, she not only runs her business smoothly, but also grows the medicinal herbs on their own land, owing to the massive increase in demand for her product.
She said, “The ability to get loans has helped us change our lifestyle. We hope that expanding the business further will bring in more change in our region.”