POSTED January 20, 2022
A small business has a big impact on a community’s nutrition and well-being
Find out how a group of women came together to create a successful enterprise following a Children Believe-organized workshop
By Siju Mathew, monitoring, evaluation, learning, and knowledge sharing officer, India
Sadhanai. This Tamil word means more than its literal “achievement” translation to a group of women in one of our programs in Tamil Nadu, India. For these friends, it also became the name of the self-help group (SHG) and a store they formed together.
Their journey truly began after they joined a three-day entrepreneurship workshop facilitated by the Tamil Nadu Agricultural University, organized by Children Believe and our local implementing partner, Integrated Rural Community Development Society (IRCDS). It focused on entrepreneurship development through locally available food grains, pulses and cereals.
Soon after the course finished, Thenmozhi Suresh, one of the SHG group members, opened a small family grocery called Sadhanai Stores. This was possible, thanks to support from her Village Development Committee, which loaned her capital, that combined with funds from the SHG and personal savings. Today, the shop employs five members from the self-help group.
It sells fresh vegetables grown by local farmers and micro-nutrient readymade powders prepared by members of the SHG, thanks to the skills they learned in the workshop they attended at the university.
The store is a hit. “(It stocks) value-added nutritious powders, peanut candies and spices available locally for affordable prices; it’s useful for the children, pregnant and lactating women,” explains Devi Otteri, a customer.
The shop is also home to hygienic kits, including nail-cutters, masks, sanitary napkins, sanitizers, soap and more.
But, it’s much more to the community than a store. Thenmozhi’s business also earned a certificate from the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India, which is how it’s possible for customers to access ready-made micro-nutrient powders and enjoy prepared food options, starting early.
“The shop opens around 4:30 a.m. and sells herbal tea,” explains Subbamma Kannikulam, a village resident. She adds: “Now we don’t have to travel eight kilometres to buy groceries.”
Indeed, many customers appreciate saving time and travel expenses, but it’s more than that. The shop is a community hub.
It’s the place to visit for information and application forms about accessing welfare and social security through the state and national government, the go-to place to learn about community issues, to connect with local child-protection representatives and find emergency helpline numbers for children and women.
And, customers can recharge their prepaid SIM card, buy a SIM card, pay phone and electricity bills.
If you have somewhere to be, you’re also in luck, as the store’s auto-rickshaw serves as a taxi when it’s not carting stock.
It’s no wonder Thenmozhi won a local Women Entrepreneur award for her efforts in growing a thriving, innovative business.
In fact, Children Believe and our local implementing partner, (IRCDS), hope to duplicate this model in more communities in the future, helping more women find economic independence.
ABOUT CHILDREN BELIEVE:
Children Believe works globally to empower children to dream fearlessly, stand up for what they believe in — and be heard. For 60+ years, we’ve brought together brave young dreamers, caring supporters and partners, and unabashed idealists. Together, we’re driven by a common belief: creating access to education — inside and outside of classrooms — is the most powerful tool children can use to change their world.
About ChildFund Alliance:
A member of ChildFund Alliance, Children Believe is part of a global network of child-focused development organizations working to create opportunities for children and youth, their families and communities. ChildFund helps nearly 23-million children and their families in 70 countries overcome poverty and underlying conditions that prevent children from achieving their full potential. We work to end violence against children; provide expertise in emergencies and disasters to ease the harmful impact on children and their communities; and engage children and youth to create lasting change and elevate their voices in decisions that affect their lives.