Enabling sustainable livelihoods by promoting women entrepreneurship

Enabling sustainable livelihoods by promoting women entrepreneurship

Published on : 3/9/20
  • Sodexo’s business story is based on an inclusive and sustainable model. The company has always forged its business with a singular obsession: improving lives by being a catalyst for positive growth. In keeping with this and aligned with its Better Tomorrow 2025 vision, Sodexo India, through its Stop Hunger Trust, has associated with Under the Mango Tree (UTMT) Society to promote women entrepreneurship and enable sustainable livelihoods.

    The Predicament

    The man of the family is its sole financial backbone in most of the villages in India. While he leaves home in search of making his livelihood and providing for his family, the woman cooks, takes care of the children, and in general, stays at home to look after the wellbeing of the family. Although she is capable and has the requisite time to add to the income of the family, yet she is unable to leave her home to do so; the result being regular shortage of funds to manage the expenses of the family, especially in low-income households.

    ”Our small piece of land never sufficed the food necessities of our family. My husband and I always had a tough time, managing household expenses and providing sufficient food to our six children”, said 42 years old Kakdu Santosh Kharpade, who lives in Pondapada hamlet of Zari village, in Talasari block of Maharashtra. Talking about the crop that year, she added, “The less rainfall distressed us. It affected our overall harvest and meant we would have to buy food grains and vegetables; a burden on our pockets”.

    Kitchen Gardening

    The Solution

    Sodexo India wanted to improve the lives of Kakdu and more women like her. The company decided to co-create a solution for them. It identified seven such villages in Palghar district of Maharashtra, and through its Stop Hunger Trust, collaborated with Under the Mango Tree Society (UTMT), to promote kitchen gardening and beekeeping. 100 women belonging to low-income households and a part of the significant tribal population were considered for the project.While 70 women who had better access to water were given some pulses and good quality seeds for growing vegetables for beekeeping programme, 30 women were provided with more variety of seeds for the kitchen gardening programme. These 30 women were trained to use grey water from their households in the kitchen gardens. Bio-fertilisers were distributed to among these women.The entire project aimed to achieve three main objectives: to increase pollination by bees and thereby increase produce that could be sold in local markets, to increase bee colony strength and produce more honey that could also be sold to supplement to the household income, and most importantly, to use the produce for home consumption, selling off only the surplus to generate profit.

    Wastewater management

    The Impact

    Through Kitchen Garden:

    “Our hopes were restored through kitchen gardening,”said Kakdu.“It was the most viable solution in drought circumstances. It served dual purpose of coaching us on waste water management as well as saved us from incurring additional expenses on buying food. It was our saviour in disguise and an economical solution to our most expensive problem. For the first time, we cultivated spinach, fenugreek, coriander, dill leaves and mustard. Apart from these, we also cultivated the regular vegetables such as ambadi (roselle), brinjal, tomato, bottle gourd, sponge gourd, chilly, flat green beans, cow pea and lady finger,” she added.Santosh Dashma Kharpade, husband of Kakdu Kharpade said, "We feel grateful that the organization has provided us with such an opportunity and guidance; they have lifted us with timely intervention such as kitchen garden; something we could not have otherwise thought. It is my pride that my wife chose to associate with UTMT Society. She says that every day there is more to learn, and more to talk about.”

     

    Sustainable Livelihood by Empowering Women

    Through Bee Flora:

    The bee-flora programme was also successful. The vegetables produced were consumed by the family which boosted their nutritional quotient and also led to a healthier lifestyle. Most of the women involved in the programme managed to sell their surplus produce in the local markets and earn additional money to support their household expenses.

    “I had planned to go once a week to local market, to sell the surplus harvest from the bee flora received. But instead I went every alternate day to sell the surplus produce, especially bottle gourd”, said Jani Ishwar Vaghat who lives in Zari village of Talasari block of Maharashtra. “Through income generated by selling bee flora surplus, I am able to meet the immediate emergency household expenditures. Even my children’s educational expenses are being taken care of easily. Earlier I had to work as laborer to meet these expenses.”

    Suresh Lahanya Vaghat, Husband of Jani Vaghat said, “After the beekeeping program started and the interactions increased through frequent visits, Jani evolved from being an introvert. She is now more vocal about the opportunities available. Jani had always wanted to invest more of her time in agriculture but she lacked the support as I migrate. But this time she did farming and would have really done well had the climate also supported her. However, the bees and the kitchen garden made with the support of UTMT Society helped her sell the surplus in weekly markets and make a good profit."

    Mahesh Vaghat, son of Jani Vaghat said, "My mother is also contributing to the family income, which has eased the mental pressure of my father and me, and we are together now earning enough to feed the family. We wish such organizations stay long and restore our lost faith in farming.”

    Kitchen garden and bee flora programme has benefitted me and my neighborhood in terms of reducing the expenditure on buying vegetables,”added Jani.

    Under the Mango Tree (UTMT) Society

    The Future

    For Sodexo, the success of the project has brought immense satisfaction. With more women getting together to grow more vegetables and pulses, the project has promoted women entrepreneurship and is enabling sustainable livelihoods. The initiative is also in perfect rhythm with the International Women’s Day theme for 2020 - #EachForEqual. By improving situations and celebrating women’s achievements, Sodexo is helping create a gender-equal world.

    When women reach their full potential, business and society are stronger and more successful – Sophie Bellon, Chairwoman, Sodexo Board