Mahabubnagar: Even as crores of people grapple with the second wave of the Coronavirus pandemic and thousands lose their finances and social security due to the covid-19 lockdown, a women-led self-help group (SHG) has become an inspiration by providing livelihood to women despite the pandemic.
While the rest of the country is severely hit by the pandemic, an SHG from the Narayanapet district (previously in Mahabub Nagar district) has created a record by earning Rs 30 lakh income amid the covid-19 crisis. While pandemic rendered several businesses into losses, the women-run organisation has managed to sail through by adapting to the challenges posed by the pandemic and turning them into income opportunities. All through the pandemic, the women have been busy creating thousands of masks to cater to the needs of divergent sections of people in need.
Narayanapet Collector Harichandana offered them financial assistance of Rs 30 lakhs and entrusted the job of rolling out masks in large numbers. Through the District Rural Development Agency (DRDA) guidelines and collector’s advice and instructions, the women managed to produce as many as 6 lakh masks and earned. Setting aside the investment of Rs 30 lakhs given by the collector the women organisation has earned about Rs 25 lakhs to Rs 30 lakhs benefits.
The organisation currently employs about 3,000 women who have been working hard and stitching masks in a multitude of designs and varieties to meet their livelihood needs as well as the demands of the market. These varieties include masks made of Ikkat, Pochampally Silk, Narayanapet yarn, 100 per cent silk and so on. Besides getting huge orders for designer masks, the women have also been rolling out Ayurveda masks upon consultation with a local Ayurveda doctor.
While the women worked from home in the lockdown period to produce the masks, they used social media platforms to spread the word about their masks, making them highly in demand. Platforms such as Facebook, WhatsApp, Instagram were used to give the widest exposure and publicity to the products. This not only helped the women spread awareness about their products from the general populace but also helped generate a sizeable response from government organisations, IT companies, trade organisations and local social actors. The women have received orders from several organisations so far such as the Hyderabad Metro Rail, Ficci, Ramkey, noted Actors such as Vijay Devarkonda, Tabu, Farah Khan and others. Noted software company Deloitte has placed an order for a whopping 63,000 masks.
Having stitched over 6 lakh masks, the women are continuing to make masks to meet the ever-growing demand, even as the second wave of Covid-19 batters several parts of India. Apart from designer and ayurvedic masks, the SHG members have also developed multiple varieties of user-friendly masks in attractive designs and colours.
The SHG has now given a name to their brand of masks, ‘Aarunya’ and hope to gain greater publicity for their products now through social and legacy media. The dedicated workers have also been started adding products other than masks that are also in high demand such as bamboo products, anjira, homemade pickles and other items.
Having set up a sizeable business, the women are now looking to move into their own workspace so continue producing masks and other products at a larger scale. The collector is set to provide funds for the construction of the space while the women themselves have pitched in their savings for the same. The construction of a Skill Development and Training Center at the cost of approximately Rs 45 lakh has already begun. The building will include a hall for the women’s organisation, a studio to get publicity for Aurunya branded masks and products and also accommodation for a DRDA office.