Hailing from Nagam area of Kulgam district, Shahmeena Akhtar is running a provisional store. She started this venture after the responsibilities fall on her shoulders.
“I had a lot of responsibilities on my shoulder and I have 6 children. That's why I took this initiative,” Akhtar said while talking about her journey.
She said, “When I was with my husband in Delhi due to his health conditions, I started working there. I did ironing of clothes and help other households in their chores to earn money.”
But she was never satisfied with the wages and later on when they came back from Delhi in 2018. She heard about the National Rural Livelihood Mission’s (NRLM) scheme UMEED.
I joined that group and took financial assistance for my business, she said.
The Ministry of Rural Development, Government of India is focusing on promoting self-employment and organization of rural people, especially the poor. The basic idea behind this program is to organize the poor into Self Help Groups (SHGs) and make them capable of self-employment.
In Jammu and Kashmir, this programme is being operated as the Jammu-Kashmir State Rural livelihood Mission (JKSRLM).
Akhtar said, “My husband was not well so he couldn’t help us much so I told him not to worry I will take care of everything.”
I always dreamed to do something on my own but due to financial conditions I couldn’t receive any help, she said.
“Everybody discourages me initially regarding my business but for me, it’s a part of the journey and now everyone appreciates me.”
She believes that women should never depend on others, rather they should stand by themselves.
Hailing from Hanji Khello area of district Pulwama, 23 year old Khairulnisa runs a dairy business and also sells fodder for cattle. She started her business after facing hardships because of financial constraints.
In 2016 I started my business with the help of NRLM and they give me financial help due to which I was able to start my business.
Now, she with the help of her six workers is able to supply the milk to various villages.We also provide milk to the Jammu Kashmir Milk Producers Cooperative Limited.
Recalling her childhood memories, she said, “I always wanted to become a government employee but today I realised that business is much better than a job.”
I started my business from 10,000 rupees with the help of JKLRM and today i have reached to such a position that I work only for 4 hours a day and earned a good amount, she said.
She appeals youth not to wait for jobs and start your business.
25-year-old Asmat Ara from North Kashmir’s Baramulla districtalong with her sisters are running a shop - Bismillah Copper- where they sell copper products.
“Before starting this journey, we faced many problems.We even stopped our studies due to poor financial conditions. But, now we have again started our studies through distance mode,” she said.
On asking about how she started the business, she said, “with help of UMEED scheme, I started my business and I am very thankful to for their help.”
In 2014, I crafted utensils at home in which we designed different shapes and sizes of utensils on the behalf of other shopkeepers and we earned our wages, Ara said.
However, in 2016, she started her own business in which Asmat and her sisters crafted utensils at their workshop and sold them at their shop. They also take orders to craft designed utensils for the customers.
“We faced many criticisms for our work. Everybody discouraged us and told us it is a job of men, and being a woman how could we do the business. We didn’t hear them,” she said adding “Our dedication towards our job is the biggest strength for us that’s why we are successful today.”
Ara is successfully running her business and now she has 11 persons working in her business unit.
“My family is very happy today. Even in our village everybody appreciates us and tells others to learn from our journey,” she said adding “I am very thankful to the JKRLM because it changed our lives.”
Madhu Bhala, a resident of Nihalki village in Samba, runs a poultry farm since 2010.
“At the beginning of my business, I had only 200 chickens and I earned very little because the investment was small. This earning could hardly fulfill the needs of my family,” she said.
Later on, in 2018, sheapplied for the Umeed scheme and took financial assistance and expanded her business by setting-up a poultry farm.
Talking to Madhu about her family support, she said her husband has always supported her. “He is my pillar and with his help I have reached so far,” Bhala said.
“Initially I faced many challenges in setting up the market base but later on, I learned about the market and other things regarding the business.”
Nowadays, she supplies poultry to various areas and earn rupees 30,000 to 40,000 per month from the poultry farm.
She believes that if one has the willpower to achieve something then one will come out from the comfort zone and take some initiative to achieve their goal.