Deep within the district of Gosaiganj cluster of Lucknow district in Uttar Pradesh famous for its Manjha Fort and Gopal Temple lies the village of Karorwa where a gritty band of women are stepping out beyond their traditional roles as homemakers into the brave and unpredictable world of business- without leaving their home!

The innovative business model is designed around renting out large and small cooking utensils for birthdays, marriage ceremonies, festival celebrations or any engagement for which people from surrounding villages visit their modest home-cum- warehouse. Besides large dekchis, tandoors, coffee machines, plates, glasses, and smaller utensils there are many more items which are critical to preparing a great meal for guests.

“We cannot go outside…we cannot do outside work. This is a business which we can do being in the house. Our clients come to our doorstep, take the utensils/equipment, and return it to us on a predetermined date and pay us the rent” shares Meena, one of the 13 members in the Shakti Self Help Group.

Seeing the determination of the women in the group to start their own enterprise and generate their own income, CARE India with the support of MARS invested the seed money to buy the first tranche of utensils. By and by the members of the SHG invested a total of Rs 17000 from the SHG corpus to procure smaller utensils and get the business rolling. With the help of training provided by CARE, the women are confident of managing the inventory, finances and advertising their services.

We are also keeping a keen eye on competition and have met a few caterers and others to get an idea of market forces and provide competitive rates to our customers” said Urmila who wants to take advantage of the upcoming festive season to scale growth.

Each SHG member has taken the responsibility to reach out to their extended family through word-of-mouth and visiting cards to develop their business. They are also present on the Google Map along with some photos.  Going forward, as the business grows the women plan to implement value added services like supplying cooked food, delivery and collection of utensils, utensil cleaning services, flower decoration etc for which they will charge an additional cost.

Manjula who has three children and her husband works as a dhobi in Mumbai added “It gives us a great sense of joy and independence that for small needs for self and children, we do not need to ask our husbands. It has given us confidence that as a ‘businesswomen collective’ we can achieve great things in the years to come

About the Programme: Mint farmers in India produce 80% of the world’s supply of mint and rely on the crop to provide household liquidity. In Uttar Pradesh, women mint farmers engaged in subsistence farming face a variety of socio-economic challenges, such as gender inequality, food insecurity, and financial illiteracy. In addition, these women mint farmers have also been affected significantly due to COVID-19. MARS has partnered with CARE India with the Shubh Mint project to support 4,755 women to overcome these challenges which improves their overall quality of life.

Posted by: Vandana Mishra

Location: Gosaiganj block, Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh