After joining SLI, Auroville as a part of our Learning experience, we were exposed to a plethora of colours: colours laid by the people of Tamil Nadu, with enthusiasm bubbling and the endless interest to learn and develop not just for themselves but the society in which they live in. During the first few days of our expose, we came across a SHG of 17 women, from Peria Kanur facilitated by Ms. Arockia, a force of empowerment all by herself. They were about to rebuild the brand of their own product, a herbal Thuvaiyal, which they were forced to shut down due to labour issues.
So, timing was perfect: our interests intrigued and they also wanted to have a different perspective of the issues. Not a responsibility, but a herculean task to uphold the confidence in them, their products and its fruition.
Supported by Mr. Michael, Project Director, DRDA, their products were put on sale in the 45-day Government Exhibition of Tiruppur as a market test, being held at Chikkanna Government Arts College. The stall, in which the products were sold, came under the category of Mahalir Thittam (Ladies’ Self Help Group Exhibition and Sales). Keeping the total cost in mind, each bottle was priced for Rs. 70. The product name was unanimously decided to be ‘Tirumadi’ (‘Tiru’ for Tiruppur and ‘madi’ meaning purity). Though the sales have skyrocketed, with the first batch of 40 bottles being sold in the first 3 days itself, keeping it up will be very challenging.
This trial run will be monitored for future expansion by making more products, like herb infused Idli Podi. Gradually, they plan to enter retail shops of the Tiruppur District and also launch their product in Amazon Saheli, an online store which will feature unique products produced locally by Indian women entrepreneurs. Women entrepreneurs under the program will be able to enjoy a slew of benefits such as subsidized referral fees, free imaging, and cataloguing during launch, account management and post-launch support and enhanced discoverability and differentiation of products through specialized storefronts.
Over time SLI has stupendously supported many dreams, given a lot of people the skill not just to work but the motivation to boost their morale to keep them dreaming about their future. They have broken all stereotypes and replaced the notion of earning money to earning sustainable money! They have instilled the society with hope: overcoming all social barriers, the women have high hopes. And we justified the famous quote from Desmond Tutu, “HOPE is being able to see that there is light despite all of the darkness”.
Sarthak DasXavier School of Rural Management (XIMB-XUB)