By Aastha Kapoor
Let’s play a simple game and start naming all successful women entrepreneurs we know of. Indra Nooyi, Oprah Winfrey, Mary Kay, Olayemi Akinwumi.Done, are we? We are still not done because we also have to look beyond these wonderful ladies in formal attires working from urban offices. A search through the nearest village may lead you to some successful businesses solely run by women of whom we haven’t ever heard of. Their union is nothing but a cooperative. Women Cooperatives are basically voluntary organizations with a clear understanding of the responsibilities of its membership in cooperative development without any social, racial, political or religious discrimination and are based on the values of self-help, self-
responsibility, equality and solidarity.
What women gain out of it is more than mere financial aid; they also learn skill development related to their area of work, team work, managing deadlines, dealing with raw materials and outsourcing of products, expression of thoughts, negotiating terms and resolving intra-committee conflicts. These groups can be as small as 15-20 members and their members are also kept open in order to popularise them in every tiny
Their success stories are also not restricted to a particular area, they are the same everywhere. From the Anand dairy cooperative in India to the Agricultural Growth Program-Agribusiness and Market Development (AGP-AMDe) in Ethiopia to the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) supported woman cooperatives in the war-struck Lebanon, there have been applaud able attempts from women who resolved to choose a way out of their trepidations by engaging with action. Another point to be noticed is that in a lot of cases, women involved are those who have never been to school or have acquired only the minimal of education, yet they have managed to learn something new altogether within a framed time all this while managing their household tasks and responsibilities too . A clear picture of how women have the potential to make so much out of every little opportunity that comes their way makes me ponder how different would things in the present been had all opportunities were available to all women from all places at all times. What a blissful world would that have been! Still, the progress is on.
It is imperative that these courageous ladies get their due appreciation; most of them will probably never read an online blog or know how all their efforts are source of inspiration to many others, support and encouragement in all possible forms should keep coming in the hope that tomorrow is brighter for their daughters. Their efforts are all worth it!