Sharda Disha2“The power just went off,” says 45-year-old Sharda Devi as she opens the door to her house located on a cul de sac in Lal Wala Kuan area of Mahendragarh, Haryana; her bright smile lighting up the darkened room.

Soft, regular rattling sound of a sewing machine wafts into the living room as Sharda Devi brings forth her latest creations.

“These are the brand-new school bags that we made for a nearby school. 50 of them were ordered and were a super-hit. Now the demand is such that we are stretched to the seams,” she says with a hearty laugh.

Sharda Devi is one of the many women of the area who is participating in UNDP’s DISHA project for developing women entrepreneurs, being implemented by HPPI. She has been making bags for some years now and her interest received a renewed impetus following the training sessions conducted under the DISHA project.

“In the first session, we were informed about the significance of self-reliance through running our own business. This was followed by a three-day training session on the fundamentals of setting up a business and various marketing and sales techniques,” she recalls.

The training and detailed follow-up assistance provided by the trainers under the project encouraged Sharda Devi to expand her business and put into practice her theoretical understanding.

“Encouraged by the training, I soon applied for a bank loan and invested the resultant capital in purchasing a new pedal-operated sewing machine. Also, while earlier I used to procure the raw materials locally, after the training I have started getting it from Jaipur where it is much cheaper and that allows me to buy the material in bulk,” she says, reflecting her business accumen.

Sharda Disha

Beyond the expected aspiration of expanding her enterprise, Sharda Devi also fosters a much bigger and nobler goal which reflects her real enterprising abilities.

“I want people and institutions here to buy bags made in Mahendragarh rather than those made in Delhi. If we are producing these quality bags on which I can provide up to six years of warranty, why should they keep buying bags made elsewhere,” she says with a hint of pride.

And these are not mere whimsical musings of a small-time worker. Sharda Devi’s ideas are backed by precise planning and fuelled by a concrete roadmap.

“In the next two years, I will expand this set up to a factory with ten machines. I’m already training unemployed women from the neighbouring houses and some of them have started working with me on a part-time basis,” she says, her eyes twinkling with an entrepreneurial zeal that is slowly but surely turning this house on the end of the street into a hub of activity.

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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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