Thursday, September 13, 2007

Women in India making inroads...

Women entrepreneurs in India came up with a wonderful idea-- how to teach rural women to run a small enterprise (here). Learning to make money is the path towards independence and social mobility. So, Mann Deshi Mahila Sahakari Bank, a cooperative bank run by women in the Satara district of Maharashtra, in association with the HSBC bank, set up a rural business school for women. The idea came as a result of the questions that women debtors were asking the bank. They were having technical difficulties with running their businesses. The bank owners had a great idea-- why not teach them how to manage and not close their shops. A success story is that of Vanita Jalindar Pise, the winner of the Prime Minister's National 2006 Woman Exemplor Award. She was having a difficulty of running a poultry business. Thanks to this program she learned how to survive and make great progress, now inspiring and teaching others how to run a small business.

In a place where many women are illiterate, this business school has many pragmatic training courses, such as goat-rearing. It is geared towards teaching practical skills for survival in those conditions. It also gives an incentive to learn more and continue with education. Most importantly, it empowers women so that they can take bolder steps towards further emancipation. Successful running of a small enterprise can be a beginning of a great career. Many women lawyers and politicians with non-traditional backgrounds began precisely from that.

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