While there are more and more women looking for ways to challenge the status quo, there are several obstacles creeping into their journey. From lack of social empowerment to financial instability and lack of technical skills – the reasons are many, but there are some brilliant examples of rural women entrepreneurs who have broken out of the mold.
Let’s find out a little more about them.
J. Kalavathi may seem like an ordinary woman from Ariyalur village in Tamil Nadu, but she is no less than a celebrity. J. Kalavathi is the first female entrepreneur from her village to embark on the path of creating an integrated farming system on her own. In addition to dairy, she has set her sights on developing her mushroom farm, which will produce mushroom powder mixes and a vermicompost farm.
While J.Kalavathi wanted to further her education, her dream was shattered when she got married at a young age. Coming from a farming family, she raised cattle for a living (for lack of choice) – but over time it turned into her passion.
“Eventually I wanted to start a dairy farm. As we struggled with finances, I sold cows to get enough money for our children’s education. But these circumstances have not shattered my resolve. It wasn’t easy being the first woman entrepreneur in my village – I’ve had several problems, both economic and social,’ she revealed.
She says she owes a lot to the Britannia Marie Gold MyStartup Contest, which helped her bring her dreams to life. With the seed money she received as one of the winners of the competition, her business has grown enormously – from two cows, she now has eight cows in a new, sophisticated cowshed.
“I also plan to start production of curd, ghee, paneer and other items from milk, as well as certain products from mushrooms. Through this crowdfunding initiative, I want to provide jobs to many women who work hard for their families and help with their upliftment,” she added.
It is said that your environment influences your thinking and shapes you as a person! Such has been the case with Madhu Nachammai, who hails from Trichy. Her hometown is also known as the ‘land of bananas’ – but she realized that a large amount of this fruit would end up in landfills every day (due to unsold surpluses at wholesale markets). It was her discomfort with this waste that led her to think of an alternative use.
“I was always interested in skin care and wanted to do something with indigenous products. Then I started researching different articles and came to the conclusion that banana peels are a great solution for various skin care problems. I also visited the ICAR National Research Center for Bananas and pitched my idea; here the scientists helped me develop my idea into a product,” she revealed.
When she launched her product, it wasn’t easy to break into a small town like Trichy. But then she enlisted the help of the Clubhouse audio platform, which was all the rage during the pandemic. She came into contact with other entrepreneurs through the app. Over time, she became more skilled – it’s around the same time that she also heard about Britannia’s Marie Gold MyStartup Contest that helped her fund her business two years ago. With the seed funding she received as one of the competition winners, Madhu was finally able to kick-start her venture.
“I have spent an enormous amount of time developing this product and I want everyone to know my product and my brand. If you visit Palani, you may also see a lot of banana peel waste. Those peels can help me a lot, but I don’t have the bandwidth to carry it out,” said Madhu, revealing that Falguni Nayar, CEO of Nykaa, is her role model.
Support female entrepreneurs in rural areas
Britannia Marie Gold launched the MyStartup Contest in 2019 to identify female entrepreneurial talent in the country. Top 10 business ideas won INR 10 lakh each to start their business. Season 1 had 1 million entries and subsequent seasons 2 and 3 attracted even more comments. More than 40,000 women received training through upskilling programs, 30 women received prize money from Britannia and more than 10 successful initiatives were launched.
This year, the fourth edition of the competition puts the spotlight on the housewife, projecting her as the beacon of empowerment. Although these remarkable women started their businesses with seed money, they need more to move up the ladder. We can support their efforts simply by participating in the crowdfunding initiative. Simply buying a pack of Britannia Marie Gold, scanning the QR code on it and reading about these women will inspire you to be an active part of their entrepreneurial journey. Let’s be the wind under their wings and help shape their ambitions!
“This article is part of the sponsored content program.”