24 October, 2017

Empowering rural women with technology and energy

Tata Trusts initiative empowers Sultanpur’s Prasad family

Like most girls in her village, Kevi Prasad a resident of Kharsoma village in Sultanpur, Uttar Pradesh, studied till class 12. Being a shy girl, she kept herself busy doing household chores, and hardly interacted with the outside world. At 21, Kevi got married and continued her household duties in her new home. Her life changed for better when volunteers from Dharma Life, an implementing partner of Tata Trusts that encourages rural entrepreneurs, came to her village and selected her for the ‘Internet Saathi’ programme.

New found identity

Kevi immersed herself in the programme wholeheartedly. When asked about her experience in the programme, she explains, “We attended the two-day training on how to use smartphones and the internet. We were all very excited as none of us had ever used a smartphone before and never imagined that we would own one”. On completion of her course, in due course she passed on her training to more than 1,000 women in her vicinity. The training not only taught her to use technology but it instilled a trait of self-confidence in her. The initiative not only inspired her to start a Silai Kendra (a centre to teach tailoring) in her village and 15 girls enrolled at her centre, but also take part in the clean cooking programme to create awareness amongst households in her village about indoor air pollution and its harmful effects. She interacts with people from her village and neighbouring villages and spreads the message of clean cooking. As a representative of the clean cooking programme, she also sells induction stoves to other households in the village. She has sold 19 units of and has orders for another 15 that are yet to be delivered. She intends to increase the selling price of the product to maximise her profits and so far, she has earned a profit of over Rs 6,000. While Kevi donated a part of the profits to a poor household in her village, she also donated an amount to the village temple.

A better tomorrow

Kevi believes that the earnings from her entrepreneurship will help secure her family’s future, and acknowledges the constant support that programme’s representatives give her. Her husband is a college lecturer and he is also supportive of his wife’s new venture. He helps her for sales activities and they travel together to visit prospective customers. A few months ago, she received her appointment as an ASHA worker from her village. She says excitedly, “The new role will help me create more awareness among people as well as help in improving sales”.