Showing the way forward to women wanting to start a business has been the objective of WOBEDA, Women Business Enterprises Development Association. K. Jeshi meets some of the successful entrepreneurs
∝They are a happy bunch of home makers-turned-entrepreneurs. They design garments, run beauty parlours, manufacture herbal products, make saththu maavu, chocolates and fresh fruit juices. They also market soft toys and manufacture eco-friendly arecanut sheath plates, trays and cups.
They are members of the Women Business Enterprises Development Association (Wobeda), an organisation that opens up the world of entrepreneurship for women.
The 15-year-old organisation has a membership base of 250 drawn from Coimbatore, Pollachi and Tirupur. “We concentrate on the middle-income group. Women, who need a second income and don’t know where to go,” says P. Sudha, the founding president of Wobeda.
Sudha, along with a group of women, enrolled for the Entrepreneurship Development Programme (EDP) at MSME Development Institute in Ramnagar run by the Ministry of Micro, Small and Medium enterprises, and the exposure led them to start something on their own.
“We wanted to set up a business venture and help other women too and grow collectively,” she adds. And, Wobeda came into being.
Wobeda offers a complete package to start a small scale industry. At meetings, newcomers are full of questions — How to start a small scale industry? What is a viable project? How to approach the government? Wobeda provides the answers. “We begin from scratch. We guide them right from how to prepare a project report, approach banks for loans, avail of Government subsidies, manage accounts and human resources. We get the bankers and auditors to talk to them. And, guide them on how to get a licence to run the unit, export-import procedures … and provide marketing support by helping them participate in exhibitions,” explains Sudha.
Along with regular sessions on EDP, they also conduct motivation classes. The members meet and share their experience every month at MSME office on Patel Road. S.R. Padma, joint-secretary of Wobeda, recalls her 15-year-journey fondly. “I started making fur dolls as a hobby with an investment of Rs. 85. Today, it’s my livelihood. I employ six people at my unit. I also cater to the customers in the U.S. and U.K. through agents in Tirupur and Karur. The contacts I got through Wobeda helped in the growth of my business.”
Wobeda’s vice-president K. Malligaa runs a unit in Thudiyalur. “With arecanut sheaths we make cups, plates and trays. Locally, I supply to temples, marriages and festive occasions. I also take export orders now,” she says. Sudha runs a hand embroidery unit that specialises in designer blouses and saris. “We empower middle class women by turning them into entrepreneurs. We encourage a lot of group activity and bond as a team. There is collective growth and we feel confident,” adds Sudha. And, their only advice to homemakers is, “Stop watching TV, especially mega serials. Use the free time productively and start a business venture.”
Wobeda has a shop at the SHG Complex in Town Hall that sells products of members. It is a registered NGO and has no outside funding. A life membership costs Rs. 1,500.
For details, call 98946-08670, 98432-54715 and 98422-20535.
Tailored to perfection
Sixty-five-year-old Rukmini Krishnan, one of the oldest members of Wobeda, runs a busy schedule. She manages a tailoring unit, visits customers at homes and schools, and sells nighties and designer in-skirts. “I buy material from Karur and all the extra money I make helps in meeting the additional financial requirements of my family.”
Homemaker D. Dhanabagyam from Kattoor is a multi-tasking business woman. She is into fashion designing, glass painting and markets soft toys. “I have a tailoring unit with 12 machines. I offer tailoring classes too. My income makes me self-sufficient and gives me financial freedom. Wobeda’s marketing support helped me reach out more,” she smiles.
Five hundred rupees! That is the amount E.P. Gowridas invested in a tailoring unit at home. In the last 10 years, she has seen growth and extra money, and sells appalam and pickles too, besides nighties.
A shy housewife, Shakuntala Krishnamurthy, now confidently runs a garment outlet in Gandhipuram that sells bed linen, furnishing items and vaastu items. “My husband introduced me to Wobeda. The last 13 years have transformed me completely. I gained financial independence and more confidence. I regularly participate in exhibitions to reach out to more customers.”
P. Sasikala runs Oviya Beauty Parlour in Saravanampatti, markets Tupperware, and holds tailoring and beautician classes. “The flexible timing helps me balance home and work.”
Srilata Guruprasad’s The Artefacts shop at Peelamedu specialises in tailoring and embroidery, and stocks terracotta ear rings and neck chains and an entire range of thread jewellery. Srilata also takes care of the Wobeda shop at the SHG complex. “We have glass paintings, soft toys, imitation jewellery, wall hangings and handicraft items, all done by members. We also conduct EDP programmes for select groups there.”
J. Sathya Kala from P.N. Pudur, Vadavalli, specialises in home-made chocolates. She takes confectionery classes at Avinashilingam University and Amrita Institute of Catering Technology, and interacts with SHGs too. “An initial investment of Rs.1, 000 is good enough to start making home-made chocolates.” She promotes millet based products, and supplies bakery items to departmental stores. “Wobeda opened up marketing opportunities in a big way.”
Packs a punch
Sixty-six-year old V. Deivanayagam is buzzing with enthusiasm. Her unit, Naveen Food Products in Ramanathapuram, makes fresh fruit juices under the brand name ‘Acto’. “After a training programme at TNAU, I got the license from FPO, and started making fresh mango, orange, grape and pineapple juices, squashes and ready-to-serve juices.” She has introduced amla juice ( malai nellikai juice without sugar) which is a big hit and supplies it to hospitals and medical shops. And the secret of her energy? She smiles and says: “ I do yoga and walk regularly.”
A touch of beauty
‘Shiny’ is the herbal range of beauty products and the owner is Meena. M. She lives at LGB Nagar in Saravanampatti. Besides manufacturing a herbal range of products, she works as a sub-broker in trading, sells solar panels, and is a real estate consultant. “I make a monthly income of Rs. 15, 000,” she adds. Leading departmental stores in the city sell her products.