A. A. Michael Raj
Two self-help groups set up shop at Avinashilingam University
Coimbatore: Twenty-eight women members of two self-help groups in Kavundampalayam are successfully running a juice outlet that provides fresh and nutritious fruit juice to students and faculty of Avinashilingam Deemed University.
Throughout the day, women students taking a break between classes drop in for quick refreshment. On the menu are grape, apple, watermelon, orange, pineapple, mango and pomegranate.
Annai Saratha Pazharasa Nilayam came into being owing to the joint efforts of Jayam and Abhirami, two self-help groups led by Mangayarkarasi and Bhagyalakshmi.
Group members said that they had obtained a loan from the Mettupalayam Road branch of Indian Overseas Bank.
Before submitting the project proposal, they had discussed with the Extension Department of the University, every aspect of running the business.
To encourage the women to get off to a good start, the University had come forward to provide a permanent building for the shop and had levied a nominal rent to be paid to the Avinashilingam Educational Trust.
Both groups put together had obtained a total loan amount of Rs. 4 lakhs, with each member required to pay back Rs. 500 to Rs. 700 each, every month.
Sales varied from Rs. 1,000 to Rs. 4.000 a day, the members said, depending on the season. A morning trip to the wholesale market enabled them to stock up on fresh fruits according to the expected demand.
Self-help group members took turns working in the shop, cutting up fruits to be served as salads and preparing fruit juices to suit the tastes of customers.
Those who worked at the shop earned Rs. 60 a day and at the end of the month, there was a share of the profit too.
Encouraged by the success of their venture, the women now want to open another shop, preferably in a women's college.
"We are promoting the nutrition concept and the importance of taking fresh juice," said K. C. Leelavathy, Director, Centre for Women's Studies at the University.
"It is an advantage to have the outlet on the campus itself, otherwise the women students will have to go to the shops outside. We did a survey and found there was a need for fruit juices and snacks."
She said that the personalities of the women had changed dramatically when they realised that their enterprise was successful and that they were able to earn money.
The University had formed 255 self-help groups and had appealed to the groups in Karamadai, Perianaickenpalayam and Coimbatore City, to come forward and begin the venture, she said.
"They have become confident about themselves and take pride that they have a juice centre at the University. Their ways of dressing and behaviour have changed. They learn from being in an educational environment and have become role models," Prof. Leelavathy said.