Pushpa Kushwaha, 24, is the director of Vanopag Farmer Producer Company Ltd, one of the producer companies working with Palash, the umbrella brand of the Jharkhand State Rural Livelihood Society (JSLPS) with which Women on Wings partners in a women entrepreneurship program. Pushpa made a huge impression on the Women on Wings team visiting Vanopag when she gave a crisp presentation in clear English about how the producer company procures, processes, packages, and markets various products under the Palash brand.
Pushpa has come a long way. She was eighteen years old when she got married. She was happy, the new family came from a good background, which was what her parents wanted for her. She remembers being conscious about what the future would hold for her, for she was young and did not know how to carry out the responsibilities and obligations that came with being a daughter-in-law.
Determined to get the right education
Pushpa was a topper in school with a very good education that she wanted to continue after 12th grade. Yet, it was not considered ideal in her new family’s culture to continue studies after marriage and hold a professional job. Though she could not take up the course that she was planning on, she found a local college where enrollment for a bachelor’s degree in political science was possible, without regularly attending the classes and by studying remotely.
After 1.5 years of marriage, she gave birth and spent most her time caring for her daughter’s needs. Despite regular household work with little time to spare, she graduated in 2018, passing exams with a couple nights of preparation. Her sister-in-law supported her by watching her child when Pushpa was in the exam hall.
Overcoming challenges for a better future
When her daughter was old enough, she decided to take steps to achieve her dreams of doing something for society and her daughter’s future. Initially, she was a member of a women’s Self Help Group through a JSLPS program. Later, she became a trainer and now is Vanopag’s director. She has learned about starting and establishing a Farmer Producer Company (FPC), its challenges, and the solutions it needs. She uses her experience to train other women entrepreneurs and members in various districts and to create awareness among farmers.
Says Pushpa: “We are growing the FPC to make it possible for more women to become members and sell their produce which they were not able to market for a fair price. We can also process these products and sell them under the Palash brand. I also want to work on women empowerment and safety programs to make the women more independent in their decision making.”
Pushpa uses her income for her daughter’s nutritional food, education, and health care. She saves for her young daughter’s future needs and education so she does not have to depend on anybody else for financial help.
Empower other women to come out stronger
Pushpa realizes what she could have become through the struggles and changes in life. She is thankful she is not that person today. She has overcome her challenges and chosen a path that allows her to contribute to society and women by representing the FPC for the betterment of the farmers along with the other women members of Vanopag.
Pushpa concludes: “Being a woman, I can carry out my role with the farmers and members which is a ground level job as well as a representative position at the FPC – a job which years ago only men used to do. I know there is a scope for growth and higher income which I would not have imagined when I started. I had a very limited vision for life’s possibilities, but now due to the connection with the Palash brand and other programs under JSLPS, I have a strong newfound ambition and confidence. Earlier, I was emotionally dependent on my near and dear ones for support. But now after years of involvement with other women and overcoming the adversities of life, I can emotionally support others and empower them to deal with and face the situations they go through to come out stronger.”