So, what do cashews, lab work and floor mats all have in common, you ask? Well, they all just happen to be the products that three enterprising women in India rely on for their livelihoods. As an Ambassador at Accion’s Dialogue on Business Program based out of their Bangalore office, I had the pleasure of meeting and interviewing women from all over Southern India who had taken the customized courses in business skills and self management. Their lives have all been impacted tremendously by what they learned in the powerful program, but each has her own unique story. Here are just three:
Savitha is from Kerala and has a cashew production business. (Did you know that India accounts for over 50% percent of the world’s cashew production, processing and exporting!?)
She already had her business before she enrolled in the Dialogue on Business program, but Savitha says the Self-Management module increased her confidence, and other modules helped her manage her time more efficiently and better measure and manage her expenditures.
Now, not only does Savitha have a more stable income through her stronger cashew enterprise, but she is also helping her community by employing fourteen other women who help her peel and clean the cashews. Below, Savitha enjoys a break with four of her employees.
Who knows, maybe the next bag of cashews you buy will have come all the way from Savitha. And a good bag of cashews they will be — I speak from experience.
Manju runs her own lab. After having worked for someone else in a lab for ten years, she finally realized that she had the skills and courage necessary to be successful on her own and took the plunge to start her own business. After receiving some additional training, Manju now conducts full body tests (blood, urine, stool, cough, etc.) and checks for various health problems such as diabetes and high cholesterol. A majority of her customers are sent from a hospital a few miles away. This new endeavor has more than quadrupled her revenue!
Manju’s hopes for expansion include the purchase of new technology that can analyze blood faster and more efficiently, and a larger customer base. She is the first businesswoman in her family and you can see from from her smile and energy her pride in her remarkable accomplishments.
Suguna – from Tamil Nadu – makes floor mats out of recycled clothing pieces. Not only is this an affordable alternative to purchasing the costly materials, but it is environmentally sound as well! How is that for a eco-friendly entrepreneur?
After taking out a microloan and finishing the Dialogue on Business program, Suguna felt inspired to buy her own mat making machine. She can now produce up to three mats each day and sells them to her neighbors and at the local market. But what is perhaps even more rewarding to Suguna than her increased revenue is that fact that she has grown to represent a role-model for women within her community and encourages them to open up their own businesses.