24 June, 2019

Business sustainability led by women

Leadership changes act as catalysts for a self-reliant cooperative society

In the village of Rengal, Uttarakhand, the village women used to prepare Khoya, a dairy product made by thickening milk on heating. They used to sell this to earn a living; however, the lack of improved breeds, led to low production of milk and the villagers weren’t able to meet the needs of the entire family.

The drudgery of the Khoya preparation and limited market prospects left nothing for the women, despite all their hard work. In 2015, Himmotthan, an associate organisation of the Trusts operationalised the Central Himalayan Livestock Initiative (CHLI). The CHLI team decided to form a women-led cooperative in this area to empower women, that led to the formation of Shyama Devi Self Reliant Cooperative (SRC) in May 2016.

The aim of the cooperative was to improve the income of all the members through better livestock management. The initiative hence introduced improved breeds of cattle, better management techniques and marketing strategies, awareness on artificial insemination and improved market linkages.

All the women of the SRC were also trained on the standard operating procedures for the preparation of Khoya, preparation of local sweets like Balmithai and Chocolate barfi using khoya, and milk testing, besides record keeping and inventory management to manage the business, to their advantage.

The changes induced by Himmotthan helped women lead and have direct access to markets and also to the revenue generated through sales. The training and handholding led to better time management on a daily basis, transparency in the accounting system, and livestock-related awareness among the villagers.

By the end of 2017, a total of 89 women were the shareholders of Shyama Devi Self Reliant Cooperative. The total income of SRC up till December 2017 was around Rs6,70,000. To further enhance the income of these women, the cooperative also sells other products (like Tata Tea) with the help of Trishulii Producer Company, an apex level community institution, also formed and promoted by Himmotthan.

The SRC meets regularly to mitigate the limitations, work on problem solving and future planning, and is striving relentlessly towards enhancing the overall business to generate better income.

This story has been taken from the Sir Ratan Tata Trust and Allied Trusts Annual Report 2017-18.