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Sakhi – Hindustan Zinc’s comprehensive approach to empowering women through MSMEs
Posted on August 30, 2021
New Delhi: Small Industry Day is recognized every year on August 30. This day is celebrated nationwide with the aim of promoting the second sector generating employment – the small and medium-sized enterprises (MSME) sector. Small industries have a vital role in the economic development of a country like India. With around 36.1 million units, MSMEs have been reported to contribute around 6.11 percent of GDP in manufacturing and 24.63 percent of GDP from service activities. MSME industries employ 120 million people and have the potential to increase their contribution to GDP by up to 50 percent by 2025.
True to its commitment to nation building, Hindustan Zinc, through its microenterprise initiative – Sakhi Utpadan Samiti, aims to provide sustainable livelihoods for rural and tribal women in five districts of Rajasthan – Ajmer , Bhilwara, Chittorgarh, Rajsamand & Udaipur and Pantnagar in Uttarakhand.
Keeping “Aatmanirbhar Bharat” as a basic principle, Sakhi Utpadan Samiti of Hindustan Zinc manages 4 agribusiness companies and 2 textile units which employ more than 130 Sakhi women and source high quality chemical free products from rural women farmers. . They offer a nice range of agricultural and textile products for sale across India. The Sakhi Self Help Group program aligns with the government’s efforts on financial inclusion of women to encourage female entrepreneurship.
“Katori” and “Upaya” – Sakhi’s marketing entities that bridge the gap between rural women and the end consumer work in tandem with women’s collectives to help them evolve into independent and sustainable businesses. Mr. Arun Misra, CEO of Hindustan Zinc, said on the show, “Our core philosophy of being ‘Vocal for Local’ promotes the growth of small industries, especially in our local communities. We believe in empowering our local communities with the power of entrepreneurship and skills development to become an “Aatmanirbhar Bharat”. Our Sakhis are the catalysts of social change in our local communities and through the collective microenterprises of our Sakhi Utpadan Samiti, we have qualified them, supported them and provided them with a platform to mainstream the social and financial inclusion of women in an egalitarian society.
Gudiya Kanwar and Jamna Khatik are living proof that Mr. Arun Misra’s vision of creating a platform to promote women entrepreneurs is successfully taking shape. Gudiya, who works in the Pickle Unit in Kayad Village, Ajmer, Rajasthan, recounts her experience: “Joining the Pickle Unit has changed my life. Today, I am the only one supporting my son’s studies and financing the construction of our new house. I hope to see our little unit one day turn into a pickle factory ”. Gudiya, who is the sole breadwinner in her family, now earns between Rs. 4,000 to 5,000 per month.
Jamna Khatik, who works at the textile unit in Agucha village in Bhilwara, Rajasthan, recalls: “I learned a lot at the unit. I was late when I joined but didn’t give up and over time my sewing speed improved by 50-500 stitches per day. My dream is to create my own sewing center where I can give a job and teach other Sakhis, allowing them to improve their social position in society. Jamna started her journey with a monthly salary of Rs. 4000 – Rs.5000 now earns over Rs. 25,000. With her income, she was able to make a fixed deposit to secure her children’s higher education.
Hindustan Zinc along with their business partners Manjari Foundation and Saheli Sameti have empowered women like Gudiya and Jamna from remote and marginalized sections by mobilizing and organizing them into self-help groups and associated levels. Over time, these self-help groups have evolved into solvent financial vehicles that offer their members the opportunity to save and access credit through microfinance for business development. More importantly, there is a viable model that can be replicated for other women who now have the opportunity to lift themselves out of poverty and become financially and socially independent.
Hindustan Zinc has been leading women’s empowerment interventions in local communities since 2006 and will continue to push the boundaries on this front. The project involves 194 functional village organizations (OVs) and 5 federations with more than 27,000 women spread over seven sites. Sakhi addresses the socio-economic challenges faced by women by developing their capacities for leadership, skills development, financial management and entrepreneurship. This is just one of the many interventions the company undertakes for the community which is one of the main pillars of their operational ethics.