February 2018

Contributing to the ecosystem

Education — Confidence — Business — Prosperity. Varshaben’s story is a fine example of how one thing leads to the other

Clean-cook stoves changing the way of life of rural women in Alidar Village

Varshaben, a mother of two, from Alidar village of Junagarh district in Gujarat was a homemaker until a few years ago. She had never imagined herself working and adding to the household income. Things began changing for her soon after she became a part of the Internet Saathi project of the Trusts. She moved out of her comfort zone, interacted with people from her village, and visited neighbouring villages too. She feels this confidence boost did wonders.

She has come a long way now and is successfully running her clean-cook stove and induction cook-top business. According to her, creating awareness and promoting and selling this cooking equipment is more than a business; it’s a way to contribute to the ecosystem and community. She is now independent and self-confident. Reminiscing how she began, she says, “This journey wasn’t easy. Initially my husband was quite apprehensive of this new venture of mine.” Now, women are relieved of their everyday drudgery and their health is not at risk anymore. She has sold more than 100 cook stoves and induction cooktops, earning a sum of around Rs27,000 so far in addition to Rs15,000 from the Internet Saathi project. This new source of income has proved to be life-changing for Varshaben and her family. She now manages to send her son to a private English medium school. He earlier studied in a local government school. She upgraded her husband’s grocery store, bought a computer and uses IT skills learnt under the Internet Saathi programme to book tickets, fill forms and do e-commerce purchases for families in and around her village.

She is indeed a positive change in Alidar and women look up to her. Her husband is now supportive and assists her in the business. She feels joyous that her efforts are helping people live a healthier lifestyle. She proudly says, “For me, induction cook-top and clean-cook stoves are not just cooking equipment; they are a way of life and have changed my life for good.”

This story has been taken from the SRTT annual report 2016-17.