The Innovative Initiative of Gangaben’s Event Management SHG
Nagli papad, vermicompost… no, make way for event management SHGs who are also curbing alcoholism in their villages with this innovative initiative. Read what Gangaben tells SBI #YouthforIndia fellow Pooja Dewoolkar, who is now in Dang, South Gujarat.
The Importance of "Imagining Markets" in Rural India
In my orientation week at SBI Youth for India Fellowship, the idea of “imagining markets” stumped me. Mr. A. Murugantham, the man behind the sanitary napkin revolution of India, who created affordable, disposable sanitary napkins for women in rural India, highlighted this fact for us. Yes, the market is very different from the conventional one, but this does not mean that there is an absence of need.
Empowering Women through Self-Help Groups
Once the fellowship actually began, I had forgotten most of it until I visited Dagadpada, a village 11 kms away from the highway in Dangs district, South Gujarat. Nestled in the Sahyadri ranges, it was one of the villages I had visited in the attempt to meet as many diverse stakeholders as possible. The village is home to many self-help groups (SHGs) and it also had watershed development committee who I intended to interview in order to gain better insight on their workings. In this process I happened to meet Gangaben Sonjebhai Gaikwad, a woman about 60 years of age who is a trained auxiliary mid-wife nurse and an SHG member.
Also Read: The Farmer Crisis: An Insight into the Challenges Faced by Agrarian Communities
Event Management as an Income-Generating Activity
Since most SHG have an income generation activity in that area, I inquired about her group’s activity. I was ready for a usual response of ‘making Nagli papad, vermicompost, and plant nursery management’ and other practices associated commonly to promote women’s involvement as a source of income for the household. “We rent plastic chairs for weddings and functions in the area. There is another SHG here which rents a DJ mixing set and a group of men who are involved in making mandap (construction of tents and skeletal structures in which events can be held)”, she stunned me into silence.
The Sustainability of Event Management as a Business Model
These groups co-ordinate among themselves and form what can be called as an event managing team for all the events that happen in nearby villages. On further probing and analysis, I realized that apart from the initial capital, there is very less costs involved which makes the business very easy to manage and sustainable. The groups undertook saving activities like any other SHG, out of which the maintenance of the capital was taken care of, and shared the profits. Women did not have to devote all their time in the activity and thus could undertake other businesses if they wanted to. Every component of this business, the plastic chairs, the DJ set, the SHG which is involved in making food and the mandap group when separated, are still functional and don’t have to rely on each other in order to get an event. Therefore, they can individually carry on with their business as and when they have a demand.