In a bid to contribute towards nation-building and empowering rural economy, Hindustan Zinc, claimed to be the country's only integrated producer of Zinc-Lead and Silver under its micro-enterprise initiative – Sakhi Utpadan Samiti, has been providing sustainable livelihoods to the women belonging to the rural and tribal communities in five districts of Rajasthan.
Udaipur, Ajmer, Chittorgarh, Bhilwara, and Rajsamand are the districts covered under the initiative. Now, Uttarakhand's Pantnagar has also become part of the list. It is creating women self-help groups (SHGs) to upskill them in entrepreneurship.
The organisation is running four agri-businesses and two textile units that employ at least 130 Sakhi women and produce good quality and chemical-free products, according to the India CSR. Spice, pulses and pickle production units are also being run by the women of these groups.
A wide range of agricultural and textile products are offered for sale across the country. The Sakhi Self Help Group program aligns with the government's efforts on the financial inclusion of women to encourage their entrepreneurship.
'Katori' and 'Upaya' – Sakhi's marketing entities work in sequence with women's collectives to help in their evolution into independent and long-lasting businesses. They also help in bridging the gap between rural women and the end consumer.
'Vocal For Local'
"Our core principle of being 'Vocal for Local' promotes the growth of small industries, mostly in our local communities. With the power of entrepreneurship and skill development, we tend to empower our local communities to become 'Aatmanirbhar Bharat'. Our Sakhis are the catalysts of bringing social change in our local communities. We have skilled them through collective microenterprises of our Sakhi Utpadan Samiti, supported them and granted them with a platform to mainstream the social and financial inclusion of women in an equalitarian society," Arun Misra, CEO, Hindustan Zinc, as quoted by India CSR.
Gudiya Kanwar, a woman entrepreneur, employed in the pickle unit in Kayad village in Rajasthan's Ajmer said that the pickling unit has improved her life and she hopes to transform the little unit into a pickle factory soon.
"I am now able to single-handedly meeting the financial needs of my son's education and financing the construction of our new home," she said, as quoted by the India CSR. Being the family's sole earner, she now earns ₹4,000 to ₹5,000 per month.
Jamna Khatik, on the other hand, earns over ₹25,000 and is now able to make a fixed deposit to secure her children's higher education. She shared that she had humble beginnings but now is able to earn more than expenses.
"I have a dream to start my own stitching center where I can be a source of employment to other Sakhis," she said, as per India CSR.
Empowering Dreams Since 2006
Hindustan Zinc has been providing women empowerment interventions in local communities since 2006 and will continue to push the boundaries on this front. The project involves 194 functional village organisations (VOs) and five federations with more than 27,000 women across seven places.
Reportedly, with around 36.1 million units, the MSME's contribute nearly 6.11 per cent of the manufacturing GDP and 24.63 per cent of the GDP from service activities. MSME industries employ 120 million people and have the potential to enhance their contribution to GDP to nearly 50 per cent by 2025.