Efforts are constantly being made to harness the entrepreneurial competence of Indian women. And on the Foundation Day – November 15, we observe that the state of Jharkhand has stepped up – to provide training to women, so that they are encouraged to participate in small-scale industries or set up their own small-scale businesses and become independent. Most importantly, Jharkhand has unveiled huge opportunities to give a boost to women entrepreneurship, which would also enhance the rate of socio-economic development in the state.
Here are some inspiring women entrepreneurs of the state of Jharkhand.
- Aruna Tirkey, Founder, Ajam Emba
Keeping the Adivasi culture alive is Aruna Tirkey after she opened her restaurant – Ajam Emba on the road to Ranchi. As far as regional cuisines in India went, Jharkhand was considered lagging behind, but this professional keen on rural development, changed this. ‘Ajam Emba’ actually means ‘tasty food’ in Kudukh, the language of the Oraons, an ethnic group in the area.
Her aim for launching the restaurant was because she felt there was a need to establish Adivasi cuisine in the public eye. Subsequently, she has not only revived some old recipes and dishes, but has also experimented with local produce.
Dishes such as Ragi Chilka (ragi is locally known as madua), rice Chilka (a kind of crepe) is served along with black chana, and semi-dry vegetables made of the local flower Sanai. Country chicken and Getu Machchli fish curry is served with traditional red rice with being saag chutney as an accompaniment. And, Jharkhand’s signature dish – Dhuska, served with black chana and potatoes, is a speciality here. She has also experimented with Ragi Momos and rice tea, which is a big hit with young people looking for something new.
- Aditi Gupta, Founder, Menstrupedia
Aditi Gupta was born in Garhwa, Jharkhand. The thought of starting business came to her at a very young age – when Aditi was 12 years old. It was when she experienced menstruation, and her mother had guided her and provided all knowledge. Noting that traditionally women were kept away from all activities, she went on to study the subject of menstruation in detail. She could not even buy sanitary pads for the thought of loss of her family’s self-respect (and even used cloth as an alternative).
Shocked and disappointed with the lack of consciousness, actually led to the inspiration of starting her own business – Menstrupedia. Educated at NID – National Institute of Design in Ahmedabad, where she met her future husband, and together they were determined to start a business, and did it.
- Mira Devi, bamboo handicrafts expert
A native of Kelo, a tribal village in Khunti district Jharkhand, Mira Devi, is an enterprising woman who passed many hurdles to set up her own business. She belongs to the Santhali tribe, and had regularly attended handicraft fairs across Jharkhand; and then, she opened her own handicrafts shop in Khunti, specially as regular craft exhibitions had come to a halt during the pandemic. Then an opportunity came knocking at her door, in the form of a skill development training. After completing this, her life took a new path.
The life-changing moment came in the form of training in bamboo handicrafts by a local NGO called Torpa Rural Development Society for Women (TRDSW) and EdelGive Foundation. She had the basic knowledge on working with bamboo, like most tribal women in her village, but she had not thought about using it to her advantage.
In February 2018, after her bamboo handicraft training programme, she learnt how to enhances her skills and turn the bamboos into pieces of handicraft. Determined to make the most out of what she learnt, she took the initiative and followed it up with more training where she learnt some decorative and creative antique design-making with bamboo.
- Birsuni Oraon & Nilavati Owen, small-business owners
Birsuni Oraon is a tribal woman in her 50s, living in Guniya village in the Gumla district of Jharkhand. For a long time, she was fully occupied with either household chores or some farm-related work. Life took a turn, and now, she operates a small-scale business that runs on renewable energy. With a solar grid supporting the power supply in her village, Birsuni and nine other women from the village set up a solar-run lac processing unit – to produce edible oil.
Nilavati Oraon, who is in her 30s, along with her husband are running two flour mill machines using solar power. The machines are used to process whole grain wheat into flour. Solar energy in their village is more reliable than grid-connected energy. Significantly, this has helped women here to work at a convenient time, after completing their household work.
In fact, the entry of solar power in the district has changed the scene, as villages now could get a continuous power supply option to run enterprises. Now, just as Birsuni who uses solar power to run the mustard processing unit, or Nilavati who uses it to run a flour mill, women are also using solar energy-powered machines to make ice creams and paper plates.
- Sumi Hembrom, saree manufacturer
Sarees are the focus of Sumi Hembrom, who manufactures cotton sarees and sells them in the weekly market, near Kanthikund village in Dumka. She also she trains women in manufacturing what Santhals call the ‘Panjhi saree’.
- Rakhi Mishra, handicraft craftswoman
Rakhi Mishra, a Ranchi-based person who is specially abled, has forged ahead to become independent. Not letting her disability be a disadvantage, she supplies handicrafts on demand. After collecting orders through WhatsApp, she couriers them to her customers across the state.