KOZHIKODE: E-shops, the technology-enabled micro outlets introduced to Kudumbashree workers under the Kozhikode Corporation, aimed at emancipating financially backward women, are going to be a financial burden as the project has failed to fulfil its purpose.
In the first phase, only five shops have been opened, that too without the proper facilities demanded by an e-shop.
Instead of giving the entrepreneurs a platform to promote their products, the Kudumbashree members are forced to sell the products of iconic brands such as Cafe Coffee Day, Merry Boy Ice Cream, flavoured drinks like Frooti, Appy Fizz and some products from Gandhi Gram, Subhiksha.
Most of the Kudumbashree workers contacted by ‘City Express’ were least aware of the procedures they had to undergo while running e-shops. As per the directives received from the Kudumbashree Mission office of the Corporation, the Kudumbashree workers who applied for e-shops were denied the right to choose the place to set up the shops. A resident of Beypore, for example, was allotted a shop on the beach premises, while another resident of Azhchavattam was given a shop on Oyitty Road. At a time when the apprehensions of the Kudumbashree members remain unattended, 11 more shops are coming up in prominent locations of the city soon.
Since the project was prepared based on the guidelines of the Swarnajayanti Gram Swarojgar Yojana(SGSY), funds are provided by bank. Those running the shops were provided a subsidy of `50,000 and arrangements were made for them to secure `4 lakh as loan from nationalised banks.
When asked about the loan, Priya, a Kudumbashree worker, said, “I have no idea about it. To get more information on loan I didn’t find anybody in our group who knows about it.” Not different is the case about others. They have no clarity on the amount to be repaid.
As per the details received from the Kudumbashree project officer, every Kudumbashree member has to earmark an amount of `6,000 towards the loan EMI and `1,250 for the maintenance of the coffee vending machine every month. And what they get at the end of the day is a meagre `100.
The credibility that the Kudumbashree has created so far is what enticed women to the e-shop project the first time they were told about it in their usual meeting. Before venturing into such a task they did not check the feasibility of the project in a city like Kozhikode, where ample outlets are open to provide branded products of multinational companies.
“We requested the officials to allow us to sell lemon juice and other snacks prepared by the Kudumbashree workers here, but we got a big ‘no’,” says Priya. “If we are allowed to sell Kudumbashree products, it will be a platform for other Kudumbashree members to market their products,” she says.
“The details about the products to be sold were mentioned in the project report when it was submitted for approval. But it is sad to state that those who stood for the project in the initial stage are now voicing false concern over the Kudumbashree workers, turning it into a political issue,” says Kudumbashree project head Ramzi Ismail.
“The too much hype associated with the project gave us much expectation. I needed financial support to run my family as my husband is not in a condition to work due to some health problems,” says a Kudumbashree worker, who prefers anonymity.
WHAT AN E-SHOP is
A high-tech metal structure that occupies just 4 sq ft of space is called a new-age micro outlet or an e-shop. Automatic card entry, burglar alarm and CCTV camera were the promised facilities in it, but those launched in places, including the Beach, Stadium Corner, Head Post Office Junction and the Medical College, as part of the first phase, purely resemble any other micro outlet. The project was envisaged by Eram Scientific Solutions, a Thiruvananthapuram-based company, in association with Kudumbashree Community Development Society.