Bhagwati Bai aged 27 years, lives in a village in Rajasthan with her husband and three daughters. She was fortunate to have completed her secondary education. The family earns its household income from agricultural activities and a grocery store. Due to Bhagwati’s education and eagerness to continue to learn, the family has seen a huge improvement of its livelihoods over the past four years.
Start of a new life
In 2014, with the interventions of Women on Wings’ partner SRIJAN in the region, women joined self-help groups (SHGs) and began saving money. With the inborn leadership skills, Bhagwati Bai was elected leader of her SHG. She started mobilizing many other women to form more SHGs and was elected as the President in the federation. Bhagwati has a very supportive husband who not only encouraged her, but als took up the responsibility to manage household chores in her absence.
Analyzing and entrepreneurial skills
Bhagwati Bai, with the intent to increase the household income, thought of starting a grocery store. She had done a feasibility assessment, analyzing that although there were 150 households in the village there were only four small grocery stores. Hence she started a grocery shop from which she earns an average additional income of Rs. 5,000 monthly.
Irrigating agricultural land
The family owns two cattle and also has 5 bighas of land (a local measure of land). However, due to scarcity of water in summer, cultivation of crops was impossible during the hot months. Then Bhagwati Bai took a loan from the SHG for the purpose of improving irrigation on her agricultural land. With the earnings from her grocery shop, she could re-pay the loan in the next cycle. Today, farming is possible largely throughout the entire year.
Educating girls is important
Seeing the results of her efforts, she took another loan to purchase additional products for the grocery shop and improve the product range. Eager to learn more, Bhagwati Bai attended various management skill trainings undertaken by Friends of Women World Banking. These trainings have helped to improve her business. Says Bhagwati: “I now feel more confident and I am very happy. I think I have proven in my community that educating girls is important too. I want to share my learnings with other women in my village, benefitting them as well. Learning can only be possible by sharing ones knowledge with others.”