Written by Sailee Dhayalkar
In the 86 stalls erected in Ravindra Natya Mandir auditorium in Prabhadevi by Mann Deshi Foundation there are stories from Satara district — of women entrepreneurs from the rural areas and their contribution to their families. In each stall, the women have stories about emerging as businesswomen and being able to make equal contribution as the men in the households.
Anita Kumbhar (46), from Mhaswad taluka, has a stall selling earthen pots. She says she got married in 2001 and joined her husband’s pottery business. In 2007, she learned about Mann Deshi Bank for women and got a loan of Rs 20,000.
“I wanted loan to expand my business by increasing production and for that, I needed money. When I learned that Mann Deshi Bank gives loans to women, I took a chance and within a year’s time I repaid the loan from the profits I earned by selling homemade pots,” she said.
Anita added that the opportunity to set up a stall in Mumbai, at the annual Mann Deshi Festival, is a big one. “If I was here alone, nobody would entertain me allow me to sell wares. My stall is a huge success. People are buying pots and also taking my contact details for future orders. I wish I had more pots but there wasn’t any more space in the truck,” she said.
Sanjana Salunke (38), from Nagthane in Satara, says she was interested in having her own sugarcane juice business but did not have a machine to extract the juice. She also look a loan from the Mann Deshi Foundation to purchase a machine. In 2007, she bought the machine and set up her business in the village. “In the first year, I earned around Rs 1 lakh from my business because I had set up my shop at the right time, in the summer,” she says.
The same year, she started growing sugarcane, for what she calls, organic juice. “It takes me two months to earn the money I will make here in Mumbai in four days. Today, I get calls for events and weddings to install sugarcane juice counters. Recently, I got a chance to set up a stall at a wedding in Mumbai.”
Kerabai Sargar, a 60-year-old woman from Mhaswad, grabs the attention of many onlookers as she breaks into a song. She is Mhaswad’s very own Radio Jockey. Having grown up listening to Lata Mangeshkar and Asha Bhosale, she started singing as a hobby. But it was only when she was 50 that, one day, while walking with her son near her house, she saw a hoarding about a radio show being organised by the Mann Deshi Foundation.
Kerabai went to the studio of Mann Deshi Local Radio station in Mhaswad and told them she was interested in singing. She started with Abhangas, devotional songs and songs on social issues. Slowly, she began discussing social issues on radio and now, she has become popular as RJ Kerabai.
“I don’t do this for money. I’m enjoying my hobby and I’ very happy to do it,” she says. Kerabai went live during one of her radio shows from Mumbai on Friday. Last year, she was on Kaun Banega Crorepati, and sang in front of Amitabh Bachchan, which she counts as one of her greatest achievements.
Nanda Shelar from Waghdhare got married when she was 17 and later, she found that her husband was unemployed. After a few years, Nanda decided to set up a rice business. She now buys grain from neighbours in the village and polishes them and sells them in the market. “A stall in Mumbai is a chance to earn as much in a few days as we would earn in months in the village,” she says.
The Mann Deshi Mahotsav will continue till Sunday evening.