Heena is a young entrepreneur from Ghaila village in Uttar Pradesh who teaches crochet designs on her YouTube channel, Sadabahar Life. Since she is camera shy, the videos only show her hands at work. However, she is now trying to overcome her shyness and face the camera to share her story online about her self help group (SHG). An SHG is an informal association of people who come together to find ways to earn a living.
“Mai chahti hoon ki auratein kaam karein, aur usse apne ghar ka paalan poshan khud karein, (I want the women in my village to work and run their families themselves),” says Heena.
Similarly, Tripta Sharma from Lucknow uses Instagram as a marketing tool to let people know about her own line of beauty products which, according to her video story, is quite a hit among the local beauty parlours in her area.
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With her newly acquired skills, she wishes to expand her business in other areas too and inspire other women entrepreneurs to start their own businesses. She has also started her own group called Tripta Hina Kshetriya Samiti in Lucknow and has mobilised over 55 SHGs through it. According to her Instagram, around 1,000 women have found a job with her help.
Entrepreneurs like Heena and Tripta in UP are learning to use digital media as part of the Social Saheli initiative, a project run by People Like Us Create (Pluc) – India’s largest tech-based mobile storytelling platform run by creative professionals – which trains women from SHG in mobile storytelling and digital skills so that they are able to tell their stories, become financially independent and build their business online. The mentors of the project are Ankita Awasthi, Aparna Mishra, Kareshma, Runjhun Noopur and Shikha Shah. These women have experience working in the area of business and marketing. They have a teaching module which covers storytelling techniques, digital literacy and social media. The training also include fact-checking, consent-seeking and online safety.
“We are very happy that we joined a community like Social Saheli. Through socialsaheli.com we have learned new skills and are now getting more women from our network associated with this platform so that all of us can take our products to newer audiences and sell them online,” said Gayatri Chandrawar, Social Saheli from Gorakhpur, India.
The Social Saheli initiative primarily aims at working with rural entrepreneurs who are part of SHGs. The SHG model, project members say, not only ensures that women are engaged in work, but makes it easy for them to apply for a loan at banks to buy raw materials for their business and hire new workers.
Tripta, for instance, says that she used earlier use plain polythene bags to sell her beauty products. But after forming an SHG with 11 other women, she applied for a loan at a bank and was able to switch to cardboard boxes and eventually work on making her brand more visible in the market. She regularly posts about her products on her Instagram page (@triptahina) which is gradually gaining followers.
According to the members of the project, in the span of three months, they have been able to train 115 women whose stories have reached more than 3.5 million people. The women who have benefited from this initiative include first-time entrepreneurs like Tripta, seasoned SHG leaders, single mothers, sports players, home chefs, handloom workers and so on.
For now, the first chapter of the project is being held in several districts in UP such as Lucknow, Gorakhpur, Varanasi etc. And for the months to come, they wish to connect with SHGs in other states too.
Featured image credit: Social Saheli website/Tripta’s Instagram