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Monday, August 8, 2011

Rural Livelihoods and Sustainable Living: Case-76: BHYRUNNISA BANKS ON BANGLES!

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This is a story of a Muslim woman who had lived all her life behind purdah. The sweeping currents of change eventually helped her support her family of six daughters and enhance the economic status of her entire household.

Bhyrunnisa belongs to Mulugu village of Mulugu mandal in Medak district. She faced a lot of hardships trying to bring up her large family.  She could not even send her children to school as her husband’s earnings were not adequate.

The watershed development programme was launched in the village with the support of the NGO, TREES which was the implementing agency. They held meetings with the community.  There were intense discussions on several issues such as health, education, the practice of child marriage, and the very important one of sustainable livelihoods for women.

TREES motivated the women to form self-help groups, each with 10-15 members. Bhyrunnisa joined the Bharathi group. The members managed the group and each member saved Rs.1 a day. They conducted group meetings regularly and had lively discussions on matters pertaining to savings, repayment of loans and other issues related to promoting awareness among the women. A literate woman from among the
members wrote the books.

The DWMA sanctioned Rs.25, 000 as a loan to the group. They distributed this amount amongst the members, but it was not enough to fulfill their economic needs.

Bhyrunnisa started thinking about starting a stable business activity. She discussed this with fellow members and decided to start selling bangles. She borrowed Rs.10, 000 from the enterprise promotion fund and added another Rs.2, 000 from her own savings. She purchased bangles worth Rs.4, 000 from Goshamahal Centre in Hyderabad. Initially she carried the bangles in a box on her head when she went from house to house. Her own community ridiculed her for taking up such a menial job. She didn’t
let it bother her and marched ahead with determination.

Many people knew her in the village. They encouraged her and bought bangles from her.  She earned Rs.200-300 per day. She approached households where marriages and functions were to be held, so she could sell many more bangles.  She also sold on credit to encourage buying.  These promotional activities increased her sales.

Soon Bhyrunissa was able to set up a shop in her own house and started selling her wares from there. She now visits houses only on special occasions. She purchases bangles worth Rs.4, 000 from Hyderabad once a week, and makes a profit of about Rs.1, 200 to 1,500.

Recently she was able to celebrate her eldest daughter’s wedding, using her savings and borrowing Rs.30, 000. Earlier she used to be afraid of taking loans, but not now. She has the confidence to be able to repay them from the money she now earns.

She feels that joining the self-help group has given her confidence and knowledge. She has learnt new skills and is able to earn a living. She is very grateful for this.

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