Suraksha Broom Making Enterprise : Skill building and Livelihood Programme in rural Meghalaya

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‘I am extremely happy to be part of the Self Help Group (SHG). I hope that from now onwards I will be able to support the basic needs of my family, especially  pay the school fees of my three school going children’, said Anna Maring, 36, resident of Pahambir Them village, in Ri- bhoi district, Meghalaya. She is an enthusiastic member of the FXB India Suraksha (FXBIS) SHG instituted with the support of HDFC bank.

On 15th June, 2016, a second FXBIS broom making unit was inaugurated in Ri- Bhoi district of Meghalaya. The occasion was graced by the presence of pre-eminent local personalities including the village headmen , Mr. Rapborlang  Kharbikhiew, the Block Development Officer (BDO), Fr. James Mani, Director of Rural Resource and Training Centre, Meghalaya, Mr. Hubert Nathaniel Kharpuri ,Functional Manager of District Commerce Industries Centre .  In her address to the more than 80 attendant members of the village community,  Ms. Mamta Borgoryary, CEO of FXBIS spoke about women’s disproportionately poor access to the world’s resources  and  the need for women and youth to break the shackles of antiquated restrictions and take a leading role in economic activities. Ms. Suchandra Bose, confirmed HDFC’s continued support to development projects in rural areas across India.

‘We are determined to ensure that all human beings can enjoy prosperous and fulfilling lives and that economic, social and technological progress occurs in harmony with nature’ states the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development,  adopted by the UN General Assembly. The Planet 50-50 by 2030 goal adopted by the UN on Women’s Day 2016 gave this objective a concrete  shape by reinforcing the need to economically empower women as the definitive means to attain global prosperity.

FXB India Suraksha (FXBIS)  envisions an India in which women and communities  lead self-reliant and empowered lives. In the last 9 years of its functioning in India, FXBIS has assisted over 2000 women become skilled and self reliant. The focus of its projects lies in reviving traditional livelihood avenues using local resources, imparting new skills and transference of  technology ,ensuring sustainability of the projects by linking with cooperatives and financial institutions, Government schemes and strengthening market linkages. The distinctive quality of FXBIS projects is their demonstrated business acumen.

Meghalaya follows a matrilineal social system and women are ubiquitous in their presence as entrepreneurs in small enterprises and  hospitality. But that scenario is largely an urban phenomenon. The population in the Umsning block  by cultural preoccupation are close to nature and raise livestock as a part of daily live and do not see this activity in economic terms and having prospects of generating an income. Ri-Bhoi district is also renowned for horticulture and floriculture products.

The FXBIS Skill Building and Livelihood Promotion for rural poor in Meghalaya , located in 10 extremely backward villages in Umsning block of Ri-Bhoi district aims to reduce unemployment and poverty by promoting economic self – reliance through skill building , financial information and guidance in other essential business practices. FXBIS in cooperation with Don Bosco Technology, a national level NGO and the  Meghalaya State Skill Development Mission will organize skill training workshops and personality development for the local youth.

Through this project FXBIS will enable the women and men of the district to  establish profitable cluster based entrepreneurial activities and deliver comprehensive assistance to sustain and scale up the enterprises in the locality. To guarantee maximum benefits for the people the project will also promote linkages with various livelihood promotion and skill building initiatives of the government and other agencies. This  2 year long intervention targets to promote improved economic status of the poor through two different interventions : Broom Making Unit and Bee Keeping Unit. Both of them are already existent forms of livelihood. Meghalaya is called the Jharu capital of India with high quality broom grass easily available as an abundant natural resource. Though broom grass is yet to get recognized as agri product by the governments, many farmers in Ri-Bhoi district cultivate broom grass and make good earnings due to existing demand and access to the buyers.  FXBIS will be utlizing its experience of running similar enterprise and connecting the produce with the outside markets in southern India like Andhra Pradesh where it has already established good market linkages for brooms and other FMCG products.

The highlight of the day was the skill training session organized for the youth by IL&FS Education wherein Mr. Biju Koch briefed them about the various training courses. He encouraged the drop out youth to avail the opportunity of free training and placement. The event was concluded with the performance of a folk dance by the SHG members and a rapturous applause from the audience.

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