BENGALURU: Baburayana Koppal in Srirangaptna taluk has a micro enterprise with five women workers. It’s an agarbathi unit where they make 2 tonnes of the fragrant powder and 360kg of sticks in 35 days. Each woman earns `3,000 a month. Maya, 28, couldn’t be happier. “My earnings help in meeting the educational needs of my two children and other miscellaneous expenses,” she says.
In her village, farming has come to a standstill, thanks to the drought. All other sources of employment have dried up. It’s the humble agarbathi that’s helping Maya and others stave off poverty.
And it’s villages like these and people like Maya that Mysuru-based Cycle Pure Agarbathies (a division of NR group) is targeting. As part of a cluster development initiative and a unique corporate-rural business model, the company has tied up with self-help groups in the drought-affected and poorest of villages not just in Karnataka but in nine other states as well.
The company provides the small units of women raw materials and hands-on training for 3-5 months. The women in turn have to self fund their micro-enterprise by raising loans for shed, space for drying, installation of agarbathi extruding machines, a generator and other necessary facilities. However, each enterprise owner is thoroughly trained, supervised, checked for quality control and given assurance of market for their products 365 days a year. The initiative has created employment for 15,000 families in 10 states.
M R Suresh, the chief operating officer, adds that 250 families in 35-36 villages of eight districts in Karnataka have benefited.
The business concept has garnered an overwhelming response in Kolar, Hassan, Haveri, Davanagere, Mysuru, Mandya, Hubballi and Raichur where poverty level is high and many struggle to eke out a livelihood.
In Neelahalli in Pandavapura taluk, where jobs are scarce, Triveni and Sunita earn `3,500-`4,500 per month by working in a unit run by Santosh, a commerce graduate. The unit has eight machines of 450-500 kg capacity. Twelve women from the Stree Shakti group of Mayamma have supplemented their family income by rolling sticks and preparing the dough. Employing 13 women and three needy men, this unit is a source of income for people in the arid land with no irrigation facilities.
“I was given training for a few days and now I am confident of doing all types of work. I am able to provide for my family of four,” says Triveni.
On the outskirts of Tonnur Kere is another micro-enterprise with four machines in Chikkade village. Here seven women earn about `4,000 per month each. For Soumya, whose husband is a farm worker, this unit has come as a blessing. Her children’s education would have remained a mere dream otherwise.