Kohima: From taking risk in providing loan provisions to ensuring free mentoring, this organization gives a hand holding assistance to women street vendors
The women street vendors, who are called “guardians of our economy” by the Entrepreneurs Associates (EA), gathered here in Kohima on Tuesday for the exclusive programme “Uplifting Women Street Vendors” which is a project undertaken by the EA.
The idea of this project was brainstormed in 2017 when 99.9% of street vendors had no savings. This was revealed by Neikule Doulo, editor, Katalyst EA, while briefing the gathering about the project. Since the initiation of the project, 22% of women now have savings as per the research by the organization.
Doulo stated that most women were “‘sole bread earners” and questions as to why there is no economic progress in street vending. Stating that there were “no savings and no investments”, most vendors survive on daily wages and this urged for the need to uplift and empower women. Emphasizing on the importance of the community, she stated that it creates “a chain” as it connects the “rural economy with the urban” as the two are inter-dependent.
With the burning desire to support the community, Doulo recalled how the project initially started with 20 women. The organization now caters hundreds of women across the districts of Phek, Kohima, Mokokchung and Dimapur. Stressing on the need for “savings”, she stated that EA donates Rs.2,000 to all vendors who achieve their first Rs 10,000 savings as an act to not only maintain economic security but also as a morale boost for these women.
She then urged all women to do responsible vending by maintaining cleanliness, honesty and sincerity in order to create a massive impact and make their presence felt in the society, which is ‘achievable’.
At the programme, two women vendors gave testimonies about their work and their experiences with EA. Sharing their success stories with the challenges they faced, one stated that these vendors are most embarrassed and saddened when their goods, including material (like buckets) are seized by the municipality over town maintenance. Another revealed how they deal with the different temperaments of the customers and how they compromise their health on the busy street by the roadside.
Jinisha Sharma and Neeta Joshi from Capri Global Ltd, a Mumbai-based company that provides assistance for start-ups, exhorted the gathering. While Sharma suggested problem sharing among vendors and with the EA, she encouraged the congregation not to accept defeat nor compromise their rights. Joshi stated that education cannot be a barrier in development and adds that the promotion of these women gives a new perspective of development and that their success stories should be a model and be replicated across regions.
Started in 2000, Entrepreneurs Associates is a prominent NGO in Nagaland that supports the first Generation Entrepreneurs (FGEs) and mediates through passionate commitment to nurture the entrepreneurial aspirations of individuals and communities. It won the “Social Entrepreneur of the Year 2016” award by Schwab Foundation, a sister organisation of the World Economic Forum.