Project Samridhi: Empowering a Community of Women Entrepreneurs

Our vision at Share & Care is to improve the quality of life for deserving, marginalized people by partnering with communities, philanthropists, and local charitable organizations. Women empowerment is, and always has been, one of the pillars of that vision.

Through our Women Empowerment Signature Program, we’ve teamed up with our long-time NGO partner Mijwan Welfare Society (MWS) for the “Samridhi” project, an initiative to cultivate livelihood skills and opportunities for women in two districts of Uttar Pradesh, India.

Women and volunteers gather in a Rural Women Livelihood Group.
Women and volunteers gather in a Rural Women Livelihood Group.

The purpose of Project Samridhi (a Hindi word meaning “prosperity”) is to empower marginalized rural women with tangible, sustainable resources to become entrepreneurs so that they may expand their income options and, ultimately, create better lives for themselves and their families.

The project, which comprises women in 20 villages across the Azamgarh and Ambedkar Nagar districts, focuses on the formation and mobilization of women collectives — also known as RWLGs, or Rural Women Livelihood Groups (“Gramin Sharmik Sakhi Samuh” in Hindi). Ten RWLGs are formed in each district, with five RWLGs forming a “cluster.” Thus, there are two clusters in two different districts.

Each group includes 10-15 members, all of whom reside in local marginalized communities. (Preference is given to widows, disabled individuals, and victims of domestic violence.) Among those members, at least two are able to read and write, and the women perform rotating leadership duties as president, secretary, and treasurer.

The year-long project is divided into four phases.

Phase One: Survey and Skill Mapping

This initial phase focuses on identifying the skills and interests of the women, then conducting a detailed market survey and listing relevant, commodifiable skills in which the women can be trained.

Phase Two: Formation of RWLGs and Clusters

In this phase, the women divide into groups as described above, and they begin working on their assigned product development. Examples include: agriculture (e.g., the group may cultivate crops on a leased plot of farmland), crafting (including the creation of clothing), pottery work, operating a shop (e.g., mechanic, grocery), or rearing cattle.

With support from their cluster, the members conduct weekly meetings, distribute sanitary pads on a monthly basis, and open bank accounts in a national or recognized bank.

Women skilled in crafting create attractive, embroidered designs for clothing.
Women skilled in crafting create attractive, embroidered designs for clothing.

Phase Three: Skill Development

In the third phase, MWS facilitates in-depth trainings designed to help the rural women not only hone their livelihood skills, but also enhance their personal health and well-being in order to enjoy a better life. The training topics include:

  • Financial literacy and banking transactions
  • Literacy
  • Leadership development
  • Digital literacy (e.g., navigating and accessing the internet, operating smartphones)
  • Safety and the prevention against domestic violence and harassment
  • Yoga, elderly care, and physical fitness
  • Government schemes and community programs

Phase Four: Marketing of Products and Sustainability

The fourth and final phase of the project focuses on enhancing group members’ marketing skills, and empowering them to set up marketplaces (at local markets or online, in the form of websites or mobile applications) in order to sell their products. The funds raised are distributed among the group members, with a fixed percentage kept for the operational sustainability of the cluster.

Group members gather to learn online marketing skills.
Group members gather to learn online marketing skills.

If you have been inspired by our efforts to uplift women and combat gender inequality, we humbly encourage you to make a donation to create a brighter world for all women and girls. Your support is truly appreciated.