Forty-six-year-old Kalavathi resides in GD Mara slum with her two sons, one daughter and ailing husband. She is an informal waste picker and the breadwinner in her family. With no other means of livelihood and family support, she is forced to go and collect waste in the morning hours.

Kalavathi started waste picking in her childhood alongside her parents. She continued the same profession even after getting married at the tender age of sixteen. To make ends meet, she goes for waste picking in the morning and evening, and earns a few more pennies selling fritters in the neighbourhood.

Kalavathi completed all the three women empowerment training modules (life skill, life skill plus and entrepreneurship development) with a lot of interest and zest. Following the training, she wanted to expand her tiffin-making business by adding dosa and idli to her menu. CARE India, through its Rural Livelihood Programme, supported her in procuring dosa and idli making equipment, which comprises an Idli storage box, grinder, kadhai, steel bowls, spatulas, and dosa pan. This helped her to diversify her menu by preparing Dosa and Idli.

CARE India also facilitated her enrolment for a gas cylinder connection and stove to promote hassle-free cooking. Initially, she was earning Rs 200 per day from her fritter business, but now earns rupees 500 daily (within a months’ time of incorporating dosa and idli in her business). Even today, she goes for waste picking early in the morning and opens her business around 10 am. Kalavathi earns, on average, about rupees 700 daily from waste picking and her snacks business. She is now also in a position to take better care of her children and ailing husband.

About the Programme: The CARE India Rural Livelihood Programme aims to enhance the economic and social conditions of rural communities throughout India. The programme focuses on providing training and support to farmers and other rural entrepreneurs, aiming to improve their income and livelihoods. Women empowerment in India is a key component of the programme, as it promotes gender equality and recognizes the importance of women education in India. By promoting women entrepreneurship and engagement with marginalised communities, the programme aims to facilitate rural livelihood development and ensure sustainable economic growth. Through these efforts, the CARE India Rural Livelihood Programme is making a positive impact on the lives of rural communities and contributing to sustainable development in India.