Jagadeeshwari joined Hand in Hand India’s Tamarai Self-Help Group (SHG) at a time when her family was in dire straits. She desperately needed to find alternative sources of income to support her family. Her children’s education was at stake. She availed of the microfinance and started making food products.
To meet with the stiff competition, she started making products that were different from those available in the market. Some of the products she made included rice upma mix, gingelly idli powder, nannari syrup with sabja seeds, etc. The USP of her products is that they have absolutely no preservatives and have a home-made quality. To begin with, she sold these products to her own SHG members. Following the rave reviews she received for her products, she started manufacturing these items on a larger scale, with the intention of taking it to the retail market. Some of her SHG friends soon started working with her. Before long, Jagadeeshwari’s products found many takers including leading departmental stores in Puducherry.
Soon, members from other SHGs too evinced interest in her enterprise. The number of friends and acquiantances increased. Eventually, three entrepreneurs from different SHGs decided to take a house on rent and operate from there. Today, Jagadeeshwari shares space with Malathi, who does tailoring and Vani, a beautician.
Jagadeeshwari earns up to INR 30,000 per month. She not just ably supports her own family, but also gives employment to a few more women through her enterprise. “Hand in Hand not only helped me with loans, but also encouraged me throughout, especially during times of self-doubt,” says Jagadeeshwari. Initially although she knew how to make the products, it was a three-day training programme given to her by Hand in Hand which helped her in detailing aspects like packaging, labelling, marketing and finance management.
With such an encouragement, Jagadeeshwari felt motivated to do better and kept thinking of new products that she can make and supply. She eventually succeeded in creating a brand name to reckon with. The retailers bought her products confidently, even the new ones she came up with, going by the response of the customers.
Today, Jagadeeshwari trains other SHG women on the manufacture of such food products. Following one such training, a group from Cuddalore have successfully set up such an enterprise and is doing well. It gives Jagadeeshwari immense satisfaction and happiness to have been instrumental in helping such a process.
Hand in Hand organises exposure visits for the SHG women to help share best practices. This has helped Jagadeeshwari and her friends immensely in creating linkages and opening new avenues to strengthen their respective enterprises. For instance, an exposure visit to the SHG enterprises in Cheyyar helped her partner, Malathi, in starting a retail business of saris with a supplier there.
Though her enterprise has expanded considerably, Jagadeeshwari ensures the maintenance of quality personally. She hopes to make more such products without losing focus on quality at all times. Currently they have purchased a van for the supply of food products to the retailers. She hopes to expand her suppliers list. They plan to get machines to facilitate the product manufacture in future.