Women empowerment is one of the key focus areas of the Foundation and many programs are taken up towards this end. These programs include SHG strengthening, providing skill trainings, support for establishing enterprises and providing market linkages etc. GMRVF organizes various skill building programs at the community level for women.
The Foundation believes that SHGs are not only the forums for empowering women economically but also an effective strategy for improving their social status. As earning and contributing members of the family women can become active players of households’ decision making and as responsible community institution they can take part in the development of their communities. Hence GMRVF works to strengthen and facilitate SHGs. Currently, Foundation works with more than 200 SHGs which have a membership base of more than 3000 women.
- The skill training programs on hand-made products for women at Hyderabad led to the formation of ‘Srujana Mahila Abhivrudhi Society’ (registered under MACS Act of Andhra Pradesh) which has made a turnover of Rs 50 lakhs since its inception in 2009-10.
- Craft production centers were established in the states of Arunachal Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand to support the women producers of craft items in the entire value chain of production from procuring raw material to marketing of the products.
- GMRVF organizes various capacity building programs for members of SHGs apart from supporting for bank linkages and marketing.
- The regular savings and repayment pattern of the SHGs prompted other financial institutions to extend lending support to these groups which have accessed about Rs 1.5 crore worth of loans from Formal Financial Institutions.
- The SHG members are utilizing the financial support facilitated by the Foundation not only to enhance their existing livelihoods but also to invest in newer livelihoods and are thus diversifying their livelihoods portfolio.
- With support from Foundation, many women have confidently taken up micro-enterprise activities and are proving themselves as efficient entrepreneurs.
In Mangalore, GMR Group has actively been working with Self Help Groups. 42 SHGs have been active for the last several years. Nisha is a member of one of these SHGs. Nisha’s economic condition was precarious. She requested GMRVF to give her ideas for starting some new innovative microenterprise which would help her enhance her income. GMRVF put her in touch with a few entrepreneurs and possible businesses. She was comfortable with mushroom cultivation. GMRVF helped her develop a business model and do market feasibility. She was loaned an amount of Rs 2000/- from the SHG for starting the business. The technical advice from another mushroom cultivator boosted her confidence. Nisha invested Rs 200/- for purchasing mushroom seeds and chemicals. The rest of the money was invested in restructuring a room for growing mushrooms. Initially, she got a profit of Rs 400/- from one Kg of seeds. Nisha perfected the technique of mushroom cultivation. She started selling the mushrooms to the local market. Seeing her success, other women also wanted to join Nisha. Now Nisha is confident to grow and expand her business. GMRVF is planning to help her by facilitating a loan from Andhra Bank.