Tips for starting a new business, loans: In Jharkhand, women selling alcohol to feed their families have a way out.

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BREWING RICE beer at home and selling it on the local market; meet the ridicule of naughty clients; struggles to feed his family of six and finally suffers a loss.

This was the life of Sushila Devi for seven years. Today she owns a small grocery store next to her home in Upperkonki Ranchi, earning enough to save on the side.

The 45-year-old says her search for a “respectable life” is finally over.

Devi is one of 15,456 women designated by the Jharkhand government for the Phoolo-Jhano Ashirwad Abhiyan program, which was launched last September to rehabilitate women selling unregulated alcohol and advise them to use an alternative business source with interest-free loans. up to 10,000 rupees.

These women were selected following a nationwide survey conducted by the Jharkhand Livelihood Support Society (JSLPS), which operates under the Department of Rural Development. Officials say JSLPS has helped 13,456 women to date with loans through self-help groups and advice on setting up alternative micro-businesses, from agribusiness to livestock, forestry, silkworm and poultry farming.

“Counseling is key in educating women about the harmful effects of participating in the sale of alcoholic beverages,” said JSLPS CEO Nancy Sahai.

Officials say women initially resisted change. “In many places they could not believe that the transition would be easy and that they would not be in debt. It took us a lot of effort to convince them, ”said an official involved in the initiative.

One of the important steps was to get those who subscribed to motivate others to subscribe. “These motivators are called Navjivan Sakhi. There are already 138 such women in the program who receive at least 100 rupees a day for their services, ”the official said.

One of them is Sabita Kumari from the village of Kori in the Chatra region. “I joined us as Navjivan Sakhi last October. I used to sell spirits, but now I am raising goats and pigs for meat. There were 21 women in the village selling homemade alcoholic beverages. We convinced them to start another business with a Rs 10,000 loan. Many have opened eateries and grocery stores. Only three women still sell alcoholic beverages, ”she said. Kumari, however, says she has yet to receive money from the government for her efforts as Navjivan Sakhi.

Meanwhile, in the village of Upperkonki, Sushila Devi “breathed a sigh of relief.” “My husband works on a small piece of land that we inherited, but that was never enough. Over the past few months, the store has generated a small but steady income. The turnover is over Rs 3,000 per month and this has started to generate some profit. At least I don’t have to sit in the market and listen to all the bullshit after men get drunk. “

Devi said she received a loan of Rs 10,000 to open her store with a local self-help group. “I’ll get it back in time,” she said.

About 110 km away, 26-year-old Kalawati Kumari opened a pakora shop in Satanpur-panchayat Bokaro after selling homemade spirits for over three years. “I used to sell spirits for about Rs 2,000 a month. It was a very complicated process … mixing mahua and jaggeri colors. Sometimes it turned sour, and the entire stock was lost. Then there was the problem with drunk men. “It was just a nuisance the whole time,” she said.

The pakora business brings her about Rs 6,000 a month, Kumari said. “At first I was not convinced and it took me a while to get in. But now I realized that it is much better. “

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