Women empowerment is one of the key focus areas of Foundation and many programs are taken up towards this end. These programs include strengthening SHGs, providing skill training to its members, supporting them in establishing enterprises, and providing market linkages to the products etc. GMRVF organizes various skill building programs at the community level for women.
Foundation believes that Self-Help group (SHG) for women is the right forum for empowering women economically and an effective strategy for improving their social status. Once they start earning, women shall be able to play an active part in the economic decision making of their households. SHG being a responsible community institution they can also take part as members in it and contribute to the development of their community. Hence GMRVF works hard to strengthen and facilitate SHGs. Currently, Foundation works with about 300 SHGs with a membership base of more than 3500 women.
- The skill training programs for women on handmade products at Hyderabad led to the formation of ‘Srujana Mahila Abhivrudhi Society’ (registered under MACS Act of Government of Andhra Pradesh) and it has achieved 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. Women producers of craft items are extended support in the entire value chain of production from procuring raw material to marketing the products.
- GMRVF organizes various capacity building programs for members of SHGs besides facilitating bank linkages and marketing.
- The regular savings and repayment pattern of the SHGs prompted others to extend lending support to these Groups and they have so far accessed about Rs 1.5 crore worth of loans from formal Financial Institutions.
- The SHG members are utilizing the financial support facilitated by Foundation to diversify their livelihoods portfolio by enhancing their present livelihoods and / or by investing in newer livelihoods.
- With Foundation’s support many women are taking up micro-enterprise activities confidently and are proving themselves as efficient entrepreneurs as men.
In Mangalore, GMRVF has been actively working with Self Help Groups for long. There are 42 SHGs active for the last several years. Nisha was a member of one of the SHGs. At that time, Nisha’s economic condition was rather precarious. She solicited GMRVF’s guidance for starting some new innovative microenterprise which would 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 conduct feasibility study. An SHG loaned her Rs 2000/- 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 she invested in restructuring a room for growing mushrooms. Initially, she got a profit of Rs 400/- from one Kg of mushroom seed. Nisha perfected the technique of mushroom cultivation and started selling mushrooms in the local market. Noticing her success, other women wanted to join Nisha. Now Nisha is a confident mushroom grower and intends to expand her business. GMRVF is planning to help her by facilitating a loan from the Andhra Bank.
Subhadra made the following statement on the day she received her first salary:
"GMR Varalakshmi Foundation has changed my life forever. From being dependent on my sister, I can now lead an independent life. I feel empowered and am confident of living my life."