Hindalco Galvanising the Women of Sambalpur

Bhubaneswar: Not long ago, BasantiMaharana from the Hirakud village of Sambalpur district was struggling to meet daily needs – the basicones, two square meals and a roof above her head for her two kids and her husband. Basanti and her husband, a daily wage labourer, belong to the marginalised. But it’s always good to dream and make those dreams come true. Like all mothers, Basanti too nurtured aspirations – sending both her children to a good school and giving them a quality education. But her family’s condition, as well as her husband’s meagre income, could get her nowhere.
But one day, life changed for Basanti and her husband, and families like theirs.Hindalco,Hirakud, a unit of Aditya Birla Group, started promoting “Sanskar”, a SelfHelp Group (SHG).Mr.Rajesh Gupta, Head of Hindalco’s Hirakud Clustersays, “We are concerned about the welfare of women from this region, and by promoting SHGs, we want to instil among them a sense of entrepreneurship and independence so they can live with dignity and self-esteem.”
“We have seen visible progress takingplace in Hirakud.Our engagement not only promotes SHGs but also empowers women to become entrepreneurs by helping them start an independent business such as tailoring, phenyl productionetc.”, Mr.Gupta added.
Founded with only 13 members in December 2008, Sanskarhas come a long way. Initially, Basanti and many other women from the village were motivated to deposit Rs.100/- each to the Group’s common fund. With the accumulated fund, they were lending small sums amongst themselves, to those in need of funds, either to do some business or to meet family urgencies.
Hindalco helped the Group open an account with the local UCO Bank. They were sanctioned loans to start their small business of manufacturing papadand badi– both food items. Hindalco facilitated their training for maintenance of the books of accounts. The Group began their business with a working capital of Rs.2,600/-. Today, this SHG has been assigned by the Government to supply 180 quintals of Chatua per month to 105 anganwadis. Chatua is an Odia food delicacy. From this business, the average revenue generated is Rs.49.68 lakh per year. The per capita income of each member after meeting all expenses, on an average, is Rs.7500-8000 per month. This has made a substantial difference to their income and led to a qualitative changein their lives.They have now become Social Change agents in their area.
Today, all SHGs have a bank account. Many of them are taking loans from the bank to run their income generation activities. Sofar, Hindalco has promoted 50 SHGs, with a total deposit of about Rs. 55.43 lakh and Rs. 72.70 lakh as loan from the bank for their enterprises.
Hindalco’s empowerment schemes are touching and changing lives in Sambalpur. Currently, the company is supporting 50 SHGs in the Hirakud area. Initially, these SHGs were taught how to mobilise savings, maintain accounts, become familiar with inter-lending norms and establish credit linkages with banks.
Once the members were familiarised with these norms, Hindalco undertook thesecond phase of development — running training programs on system establishment and norm-setting, bookkeeping, leadership development, communication, conflict resolution, etc. All thehard work has borne fruit. Today,other Self Help Groups promoted by Hindalco are also engaged in income generation activities like manufacturingandselling phenyl, brooms, hand gloves for industrial use, paper packets etc.Moreover, some of these groups have reached a stage where they can take up quite a few income generation activities. Some of these include running of rice hullers and the opening of grocery shops.
Mrs. Puspanjali Mishra, CDPO, Dhanakauda, Sambalpur, and Mrs. Gitanjali Mohapatra, DSWO, Sambalpur sum up, “Hindalco, Hirakud has rendered yeomen service by training women in various income-generating activities and giving them the necessarymaterial back-ups. These interventions have given SHGs the much-needed support, and have gone a long way in enabling them to become self-reliant.”

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