Archana Disha“I will call you later. Some people from the project office are here,” says 34-year-old Archana Devi as she hangs up the phone.

“That was a friend. I have invited her to join the incense packing work. She is a widow with two kids and needs work. This work pays good money,” she says with a hint of excitement.

Archana is a resident of Ram Nagar, Dharuhera in Haryana. Her husband works as a vegetable supplier at the local mandi while she runs a grocery shop from her house and has recently started packing incense sticks as a side job for her vendor.

“The basic sense of well-being that you can see today in this house is very recent. Things were not always this comfortable. There were nights when we gave our kids biscuits soaked in water for dinner and ourselves went to bed hungry. Those were really tough times,” she recalls.

Archana is one of the several women who is a part of the UNDP’s DISHA project for encouraging women entrepreneurship, being implemented in Haryana by HPPI.

“When we moved to Dharuhera about nine years ago, the monthly family income was about Rs 7,000. In time, my husband’s work expanded and the situation became a little better but I never had the confidence to start a business or an enterprise of my own. It was only after the thee-day training under the DISHA project that I felt motivated and confident to start a business,” she says.

In the training sessions held under the project, the participants were informed about all the aspects of starting and running an enterprise successfully. This included procedures to apply for bank loans, various Government-run schemes for micro enterprises and marketing and sales strategies.

Following an initial small loan Archana set up a cosmetic store in her house, but soon realised that there were very few customers in her colony who were interested in buying cosmetics. Having learnt from the experience, and after studying the requirements of the local population, she applied for a second loan of Rs. 30,000 and started a grocery store.

“It is the information provided during DISHA training that has helped me get to where I am today. The store is now running very well as there are only a handful of other grocery stores in the area and none are as well socked as mine,” she says.

Archana Disha2

With the grocery store and the incense packing work, now their monthly family income is between Rs. 25-30,000.

“Such information is empowering. Now I am encouraged to expand to other kinds of work as well,” she adds.

Archana then goes on to explain her plans for the future that include, amongst other things, starting a new namkeen production business and retailing notebooks for school-going children.

As she leaves to give rice to a waiting customer, it is evident that the confidence and self-reliance that Archana exudes is bound to infect the women around her, and the family is never again sleeping hungry.

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About HPPI

Humana People to People India is a development organization registered as a not-for-profit company under section 25 of the Companies Act, 1956 as of 21st May 1998. It is a non-political, non-religious organization. Its mission is to unite with people in India in order to create development in the broadest sense through the implementation of the projects that aim at transferring knowledge, skills and capacity to individuals and communities who need assistance to come out of poverty and other dehumanizing conditions.

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