If the women are empowered then the whole family is empowered, the whole society is empowered
As Rani drops the dark yellow pieces of turmeric root into the grinding machine, the production room quickly fills with a strong curry-like smell.
For her and the handful of other women packing and labelling bags of spices, this is the sweet – or rather spicy – smell of success.
These women from Tilak Nagar, on the outskirts of Delhi, are budding entrepreneurs who started their own spice production business in March 2018. With the help of SOS Children’s Villages India, the 12 women now sell spices that form the staple of all Indian cooking.
Women and girls are disproportionately affected by poverty and many have little or no say in the decisions which affect their lives. Supporting women to start their own businesses is one of the ways that SOS Children’s Villages India has been helping. Their focus is on a community of 6,500 residents, who are essentially cut off from any basic government or social services.
The women were organised into self-help groups and given access to a bank account with 75% of the funds coming from SOS India and 25% from their own pockets. The women can borrow from the account individually or join together to do something entrepreneurial, like starting the spice business. SOS Children’s Villages India offers further support through various training modules, helping these women to get their ideas off the ground.
“We have a special objective of empowering women, because we feel if the women are empowered then the whole family is empowered, the whole society is empowered,” says Niharika Chamola, Assistant Village Director at SOS Children’s Village Greenfield, from which the programme is run.
“If the mother is empowered, she can bring up the children and support the family in a much better way,” she explains.
For Rani, being part of the SOS programme for the past two years has made a big difference for her and her family. It allowed her to start a small sewing business that increased her income from 750 Indian rupees per month to 7,000 (roughly £70). Now she’s hoping the spice business can further help her and the other women.
Rani wishes for an even better life for her children. “We want our children to have better chances in life, to be better educated.” And her children certainly have big dreams: a doctor, a police officer and an army officer, they say with enthusiasm.
Rani is proud of what she and the other women have achieved. “I didn’t have any idea how to do this at first, but SOS India guided us. It wouldn’t have been possible without their support.”