UP Women entrepreneurs launch the rural economy after the pandemic

For representation purposes (Photo: Flickr/UN Women/Gaganjit Singh)

By Jinit Parmar

My family had very little to survive after the first wave of the pandemic in March 2020. My husband lost his job in Delhi, but we did not lose hope. With the help of an NGO, our relatives and friends, we managed to buy him an electric rickshaw in Delhi and also opened a grocery store in our village. My family is now financially securesaid a proud Suneta, who supplements her family’s income by sewing clothes at her home in Kamrao village, Uttar Pradesh. It wasn’t too difficult for Suneta to increase her hours on her sewing machine because her two sons – students in class 3 and class 9 – helped her with household chores. In fact, the financial support and encouragement her family received helped her become an entrepreneur.

The mother of two attributed her success to the Pardada Pardadi Educational Society (PPES), a non-profit organization based in Anupshahr in Bulandshahr district, which helped her secure funds to buy the electric rickshaw for her husband. “My husband drove a rickshaw a few years ago. So when he lost his job in Delhi, we decided that buying one now would help him stay and earn money in the city.Suneta explained. “When we contacted PPES in June 2020 for assistance, they helped us secure a low-interest, collateral-free loan from a bank. I am also a member of the Avanti Bai Lodhi self-help group. We help each other financially in a small way.”

Compared to our financial situation in the early days of the pandemic, we are doing better now. I make a living from my work as a seamstress and my husband also has a stable source of income. The situation in our house is stable nowadded Suneta, whose village is about 200 km from Delhi.

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At the end of 2020, a report pointed out that India ranks among the worst performing major economies in the world, despite the government claiming to have opened its coffers to soften the blow of the pandemic on the country’s economy. However, the severity of the damage caused by Covid-19 in India is evident from the sharp decline in the number of jobs – around 112 million workers lost their jobs in the country in April 2020. Bhuriya Devi and her family of 11 in Kamrao village were among the many victims of the Covid-19 pandemic, having lost their source of income due to the progress of the virus. Recounting their plight, she said: “I have three sons who worked in a factory. When the coronavirus started to spread, we weren’t too worried. But as the days passed, we learned that thousands of people were losing their jobs every day. Months into the pandemic, my three sons lost their jobs. It left my family devastated. We had no idea how we were gonna survive.”

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(Left) Bhuriya Devi and (Right) Mithalesh’s son, proud entrepreneurs who have achieved financial stability despite the pandemic (Photos: Kamruddin Khan)

Our finances were in a dire state in mid-2020 and we had to look for other sources of income. So in June, my family and I decided to open a grocery store in our village. Since there was only one grocery store to serve the needs of the whole village, we hoped to make a profit from this business.“, added Devi.

Although running a business is not easy, Devi thanked PPES for helping her get all the required paperwork in order. “This made it easier to process the bank loan and we managed to open the shopshe said, adding proudly that her family was now earning a lot of money, after about a year and a half of being in business.

There are several women in Kamrao and other villages in and around Bulandshahr district who were ambitious and hoped to start their own business, said Kamruddin Khan, Head of Community Development Division of PPES. “About 5,400 women in more than a hundred villages in the district are connected to the PPES,” he emphasized.”We conduct various training programs to impart new skills and conduct awareness programs to encourage these women to become self-sufficient. It has helped many to start their own business.” Mithalesh, a resident of Rood Bangar village in Bulandshahr, said 101JournalistsThe Covid-19 pandemic deprived my son of his job, leaving us in dire straits. We looked for work in our village and its surroundings, but did not find any.”

Read also : In J&K’s Bhaga Village, SHG women earn a living during the pandemic

But she did not lose hope. With advice from the Pari Self-Help Group, she and her son opened a shop to sell motorcycle spare parts in her village. “My son and I did not give up easily and opened our store in June 2020. Initially, we were a little skeptical about the success of such a store in our village, but it turned out to be a profitable business. A year later, our family’s finances have improvedsaid Mithalesh. According to a World Bank investigation — which analyzed the effects of “Unlock 1.0” on rural economic activity in May and July 2020 — India has seen uneven business growth in its rural areas, where the self-employed in the non-farm sector seemed to have been at the source of most of the recovery. “This was possible as small stores were the first to resume business after the initial reopening mandate in June“, explains the survey.

Nirmala from Salagva village also opened her own general store after her family faced financial constraints in the wake of the pandemic. She says, “I realized that sitting around worrying wouldn’t bring any change. We were facing financial difficulties and did not know how we were going to survive. That’s when I realized I had to start my own small business. My family and I thought a general store would be a good idea, and in June 2020 we set up the store in the village.”


Jinit Parmar covers rural affairs, current issues, politics, technology, and more. Leads at [email protected].

Featured image source: Flickr/UN Women/Gaganjit Singh

This story was posted by 101 journalists and has been republished here with consent.

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