This article has been sponsored by L&T Financial Services.
Entrepreneurship might not be everyone’s cup of tea, but with the right guidance and mentorship, anyone can become an enterprising entrepreneur and find success in their ventures.
While the idea of entrepreneurship may appear to be restricted to India’s urban populace, the truth is that one can find a more significant number of small-scale businesses and micro-entrepreneurs in the rural side of the country.
So why aren’t these enterprises turning into ‘Unicorns’ or reaching the highest business goals, unlike their urban counterparts? A lack of market understanding, lack of scalability or even a lack of networking are some of the fundamental causes.
But things are beginning to look up for rural women from the districts of Pune, Osmanabad and Solapur in Maharashtra, who are now successfully handling enterprises of their own by gaining market understanding and through up-skilling.
“When I got married, my in-laws were already engaged in a goat-rearing business. Though I didn’t have much interest in it at the beginning, eventually I got involved in the business. Back then, we just had four goats, and we kept it that way,” says Asha Nevase from Morgaon village in Pune district.
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So how did ‘micro-entrepreneur’ Asha take her small-scale business to these greater heights?
It all began in 2017, when a pioneering intervention spearheaded by L&T Financial Services (LTFS), in collaboration with the non-profit Action for Agricultural Renewal in Maharashtra (AFARM), changed the lives of hundreds of rural women in Maharashtra.
The initiative, centered on empowering rural women to stand on their own feet, helped them make independent decisions through a twin-forked approach.
Starting with the ‘Digital Sakhi’ programme, 100 women functionaries were shortlisted by LTFS and given intensive training in areas like digital financial literacy, leadership and technology. These ‘Sakhis’ then shared their knowledge with the rest of their village.
In the second phase, these same ‘Digital Sakhis’ selected some 1,000 other promising women from these villages for a ‘micro-entrepreneurship’ programme chalked up by LTFS.
Asha was one amongst the 1,000 selected – after meeting all 12 criteria and a subsequent face-to-face interview.
For Asha, a significant aspect of her training centered on scientific ways to rear livestock and taking over the reins of her business through smart investments and networking.
The programme also helped Asha become quite confident as a businesswoman, whose efforts are highly supported by her husband, who is a driver, and her in-laws.
She shares that the latter are quite proud of their daughter-in-law, who has brought great returns to the family business.