On this International Women’s Day, the Vaazhndhu Kaattuvom Project (VKP) proudly celebrates the achievements of its mission to empower women and transform lives in rural Tamil Nadu. Since its inception in 2017, VKP has been dedicated to creating self-reliant and self-sufficient communities through enterprise promotion and its work has touched the lives of more than 3 lakh women so far across 3994 villages in 31 districts in Tamil Nadu.
Sembaruthi Tailoring Enterprise Group Sivagangai
Speaking about the journey of VKP and the impact it has had on the lives of women in rural Tamil Nadu, Tmt. S. Divyadharshini, I.A.S, CEO of VKP said, “Our support needed to be continual, personal, holistic and start from the grassroots. We understood from the very beginning that a single approach would not work for lakhs of women whose aspirations were different and our strategies would have to be as diversified as the women and their aspirations themselves, with multiple touchpoints.”
VKP’s unique project aims to develop and drive progress through enterprise promotion, creating access to finance and providing skill training for job opportunities. The projects focus is on creating enabling environments for promoting and strengthening individual and collective enterprises in both farm and non-farm sectors. VKP has focused on supporting women, youth, self-help group (SHG) members/households, tribal communities, the differently-abled and aspiring entrepreneurs to become self-reliant business people and a skilled workforce who grow exponentially.
The projects support is diversified to solve the unique problems that each woman faces. This includes promoting the formation of rural enterprises of all kinds, creating easy access to finance for business plans and facilitating training and skilling to become self-employable. The Collective Enterprises include Enterprise Groups (10-30 members), Producer Groups (30-150 producers) and Producer Collectives (300-3000 producers).
VKP’s Matching Grant Program (MGP) addresses the issues of the demand-supply gap in lending to rural enterprises. The grant covers up to 30% of the project costs to enhance the sustainability of enterprises. VKP has helped 1,317 Individual & Collective Enterprises so far to get access to start-up grants via the Matching Grant Program from formal financial institutions.
Community Farm Schools (CFS) train farmers in agriculture, Community Skill Schools (CSS) provide vocational training in scalable local professions such as pottery, handcrafting, tailoring, etc. VKP has helped train 1,64,128 beneficiaries through Community Farm School (CFS) and 33,861 beneficiaries through Community Skill School (CSS) programmes.
The Women Livelihood Support Centre (WLSC) is a single point business service provider which provides access to a range business development support services to rural enterprises and entrepreneurs. There are Forty-Two (42) Women Livelihood Service Centers established across project districts.
Through WLSC, technical support is provided through right experts and it acts as a one-stop center providing right guidance for enterprise creation and its promotion.
The Project also delivers last-mile support through carefully trained Enterprise Community Professionals (ECPs) who work at the grass-root levels of the campaign to personally touch the lives of these new entrepreurners.
Tmt. S. Divyadharshini, I.A.S, CEO of VKP said, “We endow women with professional training, certifications and mentoring that makes them employable (self or otherwise) and create further job markets. Our Project is designed to work at the grass-root levels to personally touch women’s lives.”
“It has been an incredible journey so far and we are so proud of the impact that the Vaazhndhu Kaattuvom Project has had on the lives of women in rural Tamil Nadu. But we know that there is still so much work to be done, “We are so grateful for the support of our stakeholders including the World Bank, other resource institutions like KVKs, RSETI and public / private sector Banks, our many other collaborators and supporters. Together, we are making a real difference in the lives of women and their families in rural Tamil Nadu,” said Tmt. S. Divyadharshini, I.A.S,.
As the Vaazhndhu Kaattuvom Project enters its sixth year of operation, its leaders remain committed to their mission of empowering women and marginalized communities through economic transformation. With a focus on holistic and diversified support, they are creating lasting change in the region, one woman at a time.