For the past more than 13 years, SARVAM has been actively involved in various societal development activities of the villages under its care. As the result of the efforts, there is a marked attitudinal change in the people of the villages. The most obvious change is that most of the village people have started to think optimistically and are involving themselves in self- and communal development activities. A positive energy has been infused into all the inhabitants through the activities carried out by SARVAM, with the beneficiaries being from young infants to elderly people. However, the maximum advancement observed has been in the field of women empowerment, with lasting impacts which involve a consciousness uplift of the social construction of female gender, which subordinates women in the family, class, caste, region and society, especially in rural milieus.
Women’s empowerment is a process in which women gain greater share of control over resources—human and intellectual (such as knowledge, information and ideas) and material and financial (such as money and ownerships of businesses and land)—and control over decision-making at home, in community, throughout the society and nation. Keeping these ideals in mind, SARVAM is not only conducting various educational programmes and creating opportunities for employment and empowerment of women, but also providing massive, incessant support in all the undertakings which benefit the women and their families. Every month programmes are conducted to help the newly created entrepreneurial groups and individuals to provide them financial and management literacy. In September 2017, among other programmes, the following sessions were conducted.
Workshop on Importance of Business Planning
On September 15, 2017, a rural management and motivational trainer, Mr Muthukumar, conducted a workshop for the women on the ‘Importance of Business Planning and Preparation’ before embarking on any new business, enterprise and entrepreneurial activities. Due to the entrepreneur development skills promoted, the women are taking up various income-generating activities as individuals and this workshop helped them to understand how they should plan for short and long-term gains. There were many queries in the minds of these women, facing the teething troubles of nascent businesses and the workshop helped them to not only remove those concerns but also focus on financial management, customer relations, and goal setting.
Planning is crucial to success in business, and this hands-on exploratory session was designed for those thinking of starting a business, businesses that need a boost, and business owners considering expanding their venture. Overall, the workshop proved to be a great success for all the 35 participants.
Two-Day Workshop on Orientation to Entrepreneurial Skills
The contribution of rural areas to employment and economic growth has dropped significantly in many countries in recent times. One of the major reasons of this decline has been a lack of educational activities for rural enterprises, businesses and services. To fill this lacuna, the government of India started the National Institute of Rural Development and Panchayati Raj (NIRD&PR), an autonomous organization under the Union Ministry of Rural Development. NIRD&PR is a premier national centre of excellence in rural development, recognized internationally as one of the UN-ESCAP Centres of Excellence. NIRD works to build capacities of rural development functionaries, representatives of NGOs and other stakeholders through inter-related activities of training, research and consultancy.
SARVAM realized very early that prosperous rural businesses are vital to regional development. Education, entrepreneurship, and physical and social infrastructure development all play an important role in developing the villages where they work. Certain entrepreneurial skills are central to improving employability and livelihood opportunities, reducing poverty, enhancing productivity and promoting sustainable development.
In collaboration with NIRD&PR, SARVAM conducted a two-day ‘Workshop on Orientation to Entrepreneurial Skills’ on September 18 and 19, 2017. Associate Professor Dr R. Ramesh, the facilitator from NIRD, took painstaking effort to explain to the participants the importance of developing the right kind of skills to take their businesses in the right direction. Other than how to plan and strategize for their work, he also explained how to approach financial institutions and other organizations for collaboration and funding. Professor Ramesh provided some very useful tips on how to write case studies, prepare reports and create official documents to make inroads into the regional economy. These are topics which are never touched upon in most rural economic development workshops and it was an eye-opener for all the participants.
He helped the members to also understand their target and access their work towards this target. The workshop received a very positive feedback and suggestions for more such workshops in the future.