July 2017

Marketing for change

Himmotthan, a Tata Trusts associate organisation, is helping women in Uttarakhand become entrepreneurs and transform their lives

A Trishulii warehouse

Uttarakhand is rich in natural resources and bestowed with abundant natural beauty. The state, however, lags behind in development. The economy is predominantly agrarian and a large chunk of the state’s population is engaged in cultivation with handloom and handicraft being other employment generators.

Uttarakhand is unique with regard to other states as an overwhelming number of its women form part of the active workforce. With the traditional modes of employment proving inadequate, helping the womenfolk transform into entrepreneurs was the only long-term solution to change their status in society.

Realising this, Himmotthan, a Tata Trusts associate organisation, has been striving hard for the past 10 years to help Uttarakhand women turn into entrepreneurs and change the quality of their lives. Himmotthan is dedicated to the vision of building prosperous and self-sustained mountain communities.

Tata Tea sale underway at a women's self-help group
Turning a new leaf
The story began in June 2016 with Himmotthan forming a state-level producer company Trishulii. The Tata Trusts’ initiative has over 1,350 women self-help groups (SHGs) /activity groups with about 14,000 women members across the nine mountain districts of the state.

The company has the mandate to facilitate and carry out bulk processing, branding and marketing of produce from the member cooperatives. It also sources and supplies critical inputs for agriculture and animal husbandry, such as raw material for cattle feed production.

Agro-produce marketing is another focus area for the company. The company has entered into benefit-sharing mechanisms with different stakeholders to sell agri products (pulses and spices) at big urban markets, such as Dehradun and Delhi. The company regularly conducts exhibitions, fairs, and retail and bulk sales as part of its marketing activities.

A change for good
Trishulii is also involved in the marketing and sale of Tata Tea and water filters in rural markets and households. The company has signed agreements with Tata Global Beverages Ltd  and Tata Chemicals Ltd which allows the companies to access rural markets, fast emerging as an important growth engine. Trishulii members have benefitted from the steady income opportunity.

Currently, Trishulii sells about five tonnes of Tata Tea per month and 705 units of offline water filters through SHGs and cooperatives.  The company’s activities have benefitted 5,000 women beneficiaries and members and helped generate Rs42.80 lakh (from December 2016 to March 2017). The company made a net profit of Rs1.5 lakh.

The company has chalked out a robust plan for the financial year 2017-18. Trishulii plans to sell 10 tonnes of Tata Tea a month, 7,000 water filters and a variety of dairy products, seeds, fertilisers, consumables, tools, etc. In addition, the company also plans to grade, sort, package and market 200 quintals agri products and process and market 50 quintal/month of animal feed. The company also has plans to expand its product range to include livestock products, handicrafts, agriculture produce, etc. The company also hopes to provide entrepreneurship opportunities to 1,000 youths. Through all its activities, the company along with its associate cooperatives hope to generate an annual turnover of Rs7.5 crore.

Thanks to Himmotthan’s efforts, rural women are leading substantially better lives. The income through marketing and sale of Tata products has helped the women to contribute to their family income. It has also prevented many from migrating to urban centres in search of employment and reduced the drudgery, an inseparable part of lives in the hills.

Prabha Rawat of Mandal village in Chamoli exemplifies the change brought about by Himmotthan’s entrepreneurship development initiative. A rural distributor with the Ekta Women Cooperative, a Trishulii member unit, Prabha is part of a five-member team engaged in the marketing and sale of Tata Tea in Karanpryag block of Chamoli district. Prabha and her team sell over 700 kg/month of tea worth Rs1.40 lakh/month. Prabha manages to earn Rs8,000 a month as sales incentive.
 
Prabha’s success story is not an isolated one. Like her, other women in Uttarakhand’s hill districts have transformed their lives with help from Himmotthan.