“Becoming independent is really a great feeling!”
Indian women in remote areas find it very difficult to take the decision to step out of their homes, to take up the responsibility of doing something independently, on their own – at their own terms. Rekha Devi, based in Bagru, near Jaipur, in Rajasthan explains to Shree Lahiri how she made this effort, pushing herself beyond her limits. Today she feels it was indeed a wise decision, and both she and her team are happy.
- What was the starting point for you, when you decided to do something on your own?
In the beginning, ladies used to just sit around and discuss that they wanted to do business. They wanted to make money, have a regular income.
We formed a group of nine ladies, and joined Apani Sahakari Sewa Samiti, which is a self-help group in Rajasthan, took a loan of Rs 10,000 each and then got into producing decorative, carved items like elephants, peacock, horse, even Ganeshji; there were other items like sindur dani, pen holders. Then we got another loan and purchased a machine, so that we could work at home. The machine is a great help and our ladies now work efficiently.
We also go out of Rajasthan, to Delhi, Goa for melas organsied by the Government. We sell our items here. In Delhi, we are setting up a shop in Dilli Haat, and we plan our products.
Let me tell you, I also felt that I can move out of my home and get involved in making something which can bring in income. Now we are happy to work together and share the income.
- While starting the business activity, how did you get the funds?
Like I said, we first took a loan to start the business, and then took another loan to buy the machine for making the decorative and carved items.
- Do you feel becoming independent has helped you?
Yes, I feel every lady should go through what I did. We all can do this, and becoming independent is really a great feeling. In this way, we can also do something for our families – our children specially. This way, we feel we are doing good work and also contributing to the welfare of the family. So, becoming independent is something that every woman must try to work towards.
- Did you get trained to take up this work?
No, I started on my own. At that time, my husband used to have a small job, but soon left that job to join me. Now he helps me with the sales. As we travel to sell our products, he also accompanies us.
- If you are offered training, will you accept it?
Yes, I will be interested. We do not sell our products online, but if we are given some training, to make our products available online, it would really help us get online orders. That would help us in taking our business activity ahead.
- What were the problems you faced in your journey?
There were a lot of problems. In the beginning, the ladies did not want to leave their homes and join me. They said they have more work at home. So it took a lot of coaxing, to make them decide. I actually went against all negative signs and went ahead and started with the production of our decorative items. Now the ladies are also happy that they finally decided and moved out of their homes to do something independently. They are also earning an income and they are all happy.
- Where do you plan to take your work activity in 3 to 5 years from now?
I want to be involved in the same work that we are doing now – that much I am sure. But I also want to move ahead and set up our own showroom in Jaipur, as so many tourists visit the city, who can buy our items and thus help us expand our business. Currently we sell our items in Amer, which is a tourists spot, and tourists do buy our products.