News & Information From Northeast India

Women entrepreneurs in Assam’s Kamrup district focus on eco-friendly cutlery to make a living

In a bid to provide employment opportunities, a project is being run to train women entrepreneurs in rural villages of Kamrup district of Assam.

Funded by Interglobe Foundation and implemented by Dhriiti – The Courage Within, Project Pragati involves women in making areca nut leaf plates that are 100 per cent bio-degradable as microenterprise models.

Tapping into an abundantly available natural resource which previously went to waste, the women are able to complement their household income by running home-based enterprises.

“I have been making plates and spoon from areca nut leaves for the last two years. It has been a great experience for me and also for my neighbours. Earlier, these leafs were wasted but now we are making money from the ‘wastage’. There are scopes to earn even more,” Rita Rabha, one of the entrepreneurs, who was assisted by the project, told The News Mill.

Apart from her, 34 other women entrepreneurs from the locality, who were part of Project Pragati, were felicitated at a function held at Bamunigaon in Kamrup district.

These entrepreneurs earn somewhere between Rs 10,000 to Rs 15,000 in a month depending on the time they spend for making these plates.

Another woman entrepreneur – Rijumoni Rabha from Baghmara village too echoed similar thoughts. Earlier she used to work in other places but after undergoing training, she is earning to help her husband in managing the family.

While Interglobe Foundation has funded the machines, Assam-based Tamul Plates Marketing Private Limited (TPMPL) provided the technical support. Dhriiti has helped these women manage their enterprise, create a network of raw material suppliers, learn accounting and balance their home and work environments.

“The project had two aims – one it was to create women entrepreneurs who would make cutlery out of areca nut leaves. And the other one was to produce eco-friendly cutlery which would replace plastics. Through this project we were able to empower 35 women directly and the benefits reached more than 300 others who were able to make a living by making these eco-friendly cutleries,” said Priyanka Singh, Head of Interglobe Foundation.

35 women entrepreneurs, part of Project Pragati, felicitated at a function held at Bamunigaon in Kamrup district of Assam

On Wednesday, Dhriiti held the felicitation ceremony for the Pragati entrepreneurs at Bamunigaon near Chhaygaon and also handed over kits of spare machine parts to the two Self Help Groups that these women entrepreneurs have formed. The event comes at a significant moment in the project as the women have stabilized their businesses. They have tackled issues related to electricity, machine repairs and production. The event also served as an opportunity to showcase ‘the face of Pragati’ to the community, reaching a large base of audience.

“We are happy to see that these 35 women are now empowered through this project. They are now able to enhance their earning as they produce eco-friendly areca nut cutlery from their own setup at their homes. We provided 30 days training and the ability to manage a home-based business besides providing the equipments after selection of the beneficiary,” said Nidhi Arora, Executive Director of Dhriiti.

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