JAIPUR: This Diwali, lamps made by women of self-help groups in Jaipur will light many homes and courtyards across the country. Led by Monika Gupta, daughter of a driver and now a successful entrepreneur, over 150 women from a dozen self-help groups have made over 20 lakh lamps for the Diwali season. And will be distributed across India including Bihar, Kerala, Telangana, Maharashtra, Gujarat, Uttar Pradesh and Tamil Nadu.
These women are associated with SHGs of the Hahnemann Charitable Mission Society where each woman earns about Rs 1000 daily by making 500 diyas. Milk, curd and herbs are used for making these high quality diyas and demand for these diyas has started coming from all over the country. Monika is helping over 1.5 lakh women to earn their livelihood through a range of self help groups. Growing up with limited means, she educated herself and went on to work for a bank.
She realized her mother too had big dreams and wanted to contribute financially to the family but had no support either from the family or the government. It is then she decided that she would train the ordinary women to make them financially independent. With the support of her husband, Aul Gupta, Monika started forming self help groups (SHG) which now grown to over 7000.
The women in these SHGs create handicraft and other utility items. Monika has procured loans of over Rs 50 crore for the SHG women across Rajasthan. More than providing employment, financial assistance in marketing, sales and even savings to the women associated with SHGs, Monika counsels them and their family to make them self-reliant. Her journey wasn’t easy. Initially, she had to mortgage her property, jewelry and even had to sell her scooter to support women.
As she recalls, “I did not have money to pay salary my staff, I did not let them mortgage their gold but used my own. I told them that when I can’t give up, why do you lose courage? Now we are standing on our feet because women connected with me and now we have become each others’ strength.” The women in SHGs make different types of products ranging from pickles to soft toys, footwear to spices and Vedic lamps. From making pots, rakhis, bangle and jewellery training, the SHGs engage with the government that helps them procure loans as well.
In turn, Monika’s organization strives to sell the women’s artifacts online and offline in the market. “We train the women on how to sell the products and where to sell them so that they come to know how to earn profits. This understanding is extremely significant and now 10 to 15 SHGs not only take loans from banks but also manufacture their own products and hold exhibitions themselves,” says Monika. The result of Monica’s remarkable efforts was seen recently when Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot chose Monica’s SHG group to inspect the Indira Rasoi project in Jaipur.
The state government runs over a 1000 Indira Rasoi and recently CM Gehlot chose to inspect a site run by Monica’s SHG. CM Gehlot along with his wife not only inspected their Indira Rasoi but also ate a meal there. Monica says, “He looked happy with our preparations and was so impressed that he talked to me for 45 minutes and gave three more kitchen operations to our SHGs.”
Her recent project, along with DIC, involves a bungalow for women made by mixing 40 per cent cow dung with the help of clusters of two thousand artisans along the Maniharo-Jaipur route. Monica also plans to launch a range of cow dung jewellery which will be made by these women’s self-help groups