Married off at 17, Kamal Kumbhar realised the significance of economic independence very early on, she says. Born in Hinglajwadi village in Maharashtra, she needed to drop out after Class 10 as a consequence of relentless poverty.
“I bought married in 1993 and for the primary few years, we struggled for cash to guide a good life. I actually wished to contribute to our household’s livelihood, however didn’t know the way,” she tells The Higher India.
In 2001, she attended an occasion organised in her village by Swayam Shikshan Prayog, an NGO based mostly in Pune that goals to assist feminine entrepreneurs in areas reminiscent of agriculture, well being and sanitation. She quickly turned related to him and with their steering, she began her first micro enterprise in 2002 — a bangle making enterprise.
This marked the start of her profitable entrepreneurship journey. Finally, she bought into a number of companies and now earns round Rs 30,000 in simply three days, she says. “I began my bangle enterprise with the Rs 10 I obtained from a self-help group within the locality. Their assist continued and I began pitching in more cash.”
Alongside the bangle enterprise, she put collectively different ventures together with these to promote sarees, stationery, and light-weight bulbs, in addition to a large number. She offered the merchandise by going door to door in close by villages.
“Till 2012, this was my routine. Together with promoting, I inspired the ladies of every family to begin one thing related of their very own to grow to be financially impartial. I launched them to authorities schemes and loans out there for micro enterprises they usually had been redirected to some self-help teams within the villages,” she remembers.
In 2015, Kamal took up poultry farming. She selected the sector after visiting villages and researching which enterprise would work greatest.
“By that point, the bangle enterprise turned so prevalent. With extra girls coming into the sector, virtually all micro companies had been lined and I considered launching one thing large, but completely different. The poultry enterprise, particularly goat breeding, appeared like a brand new and profitable possibility. I went ahead to launch Kamal Poultry and later Ekta Sakhi Producer Firm, a poultry-cum-hatchery enterprise,” she explains.
As we speak Kamal manages six completely different enterprises of her personal, together with an natural farming enterprise, compost enterprise, mess for varsity youngsters, gentle bulb enterprise and the 2 poultry ventures. All of those are situated in and round Osmanabad, her native place.
When girls assist one another
For Kamal, coaching village girls to begin their very own enterprise comes equal to working her ventures. Additionally, a majority of the workers in her enterprises are rural girls.
“Whereas I inspired girls throughout home visits to take up companies, some others approached me immediately for steering. The numbers expanded after they related with different girls from close by villages.”
“As there have been many ladies, I began charging Rs 100/month as charges to coach them. The coaching is for 10 months and consists of particulars about easy methods to begin a checking account, what enterprise they like, easy methods to do market analysis, how a lot web price might be obtained and extra. I additionally inform them in regards to the out there authorities schemes in order that they will register and get advantages,” says Kamal.
Kamal says she has educated 70 girls in her village alone and a complete of 5,000 in all of Maharashtra. “Males, too, participate generally, however it’s principally girls,” she provides.
Shaheen Babasheik, a 35-year-old entrepreneur, says, “Kamal and I hail from the identical village. I used to be conscious of the actions she has been doing. I approached her, sharing my want to start a enterprise of my very own. After a short market analysis, she helped me in opening a checking account and shared particulars in regards to the loans out there. In 2000, I launched into bangle making and the subsequent yr into jewelry making. This continued for 10 years and after my marriage in 2010, I additionally began stitching garments.”
She continues, “I’m able to earn upto Rs 15,000 from all these companies, because of Kamal.”
Kamal notes, “Their earnings goes upto Rs 50,000 per thirty days, based mostly on the enterprise they’re concerned in. I’m completely happy that they’re making a livelihood of their very own, whether or not or not they obtain assist from the household or not. Additionally, they proceed to empower different girls from their locality, which is the very best a part of all of it.”
Bringing solar energy to rural houses
Kamal has been collaborating with an organisation referred to as Urja in 20-25 villages of Maharashtra. She labored with the mortgage group of the group, who go from home to deal with and inform girls how a lot and what kind of mortgage to take whereas beginning a enterprise.
“It was throughout these visits that I realised that a lot of the localities face energy reduce points and folks complained that their youngsters are unable to check after faculty as a consequence of this. This made me take into consideration solar energy, via which no less than fundamental electrical tools can work in a family. This wanted nice funding, which I couldn’t make. Thus, with the assist of the identical organisation, I distributed photo voltaic lights to three,000 households of Maharashtra,” she explains.
For her contributions in direction of girls empowerment and entrepreneurship, Kamal has been recognised by a number of organisations and the federal government. She received the Confederation of Indian Trade (CII) Basis’s Lady Exemplar Award from former president Pranab Mukherjee in 2017. The identical yr she additionally received the Ladies Remodeling India Award, organised by the United Nations and NITI Aayog. On the event of Ladies’s Day of 2022, Kamal was introduced the Nari Shakti Award by former president Ram Nath Kovind.
“My future plan is to open a coaching centre for ladies who want to grow to be entrepreneurs. By the tip of 2025, I want to prepare 10,000 girls,” says the 46-year-old.
“Ladies who don’t even have correct houses method me on a regular basis. I wish to assist all of them obtain every part they want for. All they want is an preliminary push. They’re succesful sufficient to take it ahead and share power with fellow girls. I additionally need every one among them to teach their youngsters and save for his or her future. I imagine that the destiny of rural India is within the palms of the upcoming era. It’s our accountability to guide them.”
Edited by Divya Sethu; Photograph Credit: Kamal Kumbhar