Surrounded by lush green forests, the Amritam baby food production house provides employment to 11 women. This project is a wonderful example of how the Kerala government has played a crucial role in helping women establish themselves in business.
A few years ago the Kurumbashri scheme brought together 20 women, gave them training in how to make baby food and built them a modern factory to enable them to produce over 500kg of food each day. They also ensured that the product would have a guaranteed market by providing local schools with the product on a daily basis.
In the last couple of years the women have taken over the business and now pay rent for the premises. The team has now reduced to 11 and they work together exceptionally well. Despite their official working hours being 10am – 5pm, they all tend to work longer to get the job done and focus on increasing sales and profitability. This has all been possible with the support of their families.
Before this project these women were quite timid and admit to not having had much business sense. Out of the 11 women who continue to be involved in the business 7 have now learnt to drive and have been able to purchase scooters to enable them to commute to work easily. They are very proud of this!
Participating in ACCION’s Dialogue on Business training has enabled them to formulate ambitious plans to extend their product range. They have already established that if they improve the quality of their food they will be able to sell it for 120 Rupees per bag in the market rather than solely relying on the local schools where they sell the current product at 40 Rupees per bag. They would also like to start producing rice powder as well as set up a tailoring business, for which they have already identified a possible location.
The training also taught these women more about how to deal with suppliers and customers and improve their market linkages. This is an area that they would now like further training on in order for them to understand how to test the market to determine the feasibility of their new products.