A candle dispels darkness. The women of Kamarpara of Lohabazar village in Md. Bazaar block of Birbhum, West Bengal have discovered it can also dispel poverty and deprivation. The members of “MATANGINI Swanirbhor Dal” were housewives with neither any livelihood activity nor any bank account to their credit till they came together to form the SHG and learnt candle making. It is now lighting up their lives in more ways than one.
Angargaria Srijoni Siksha Niketan (ASSN) an NGO had been nurturing SHGs in the district for long years. Initially, against their savings corpus, the group took loan from Paschim Banga Gramin Bank, Md Bazaar branch to pursue individual activities viz. Kantha Stitch, Goat rearing, farm cultivation etc. but due to lack of scale, income was meagre when they decided to undertake a common activity viz. candle making.
In 2017, NABARD sanctioned a grant for MEDP on Decorative Candle Making to ASSN. The group was also given exposure on Decorative Candle making at the production unit of Srijoni Green Producer Company Ltd. at Kadamhir village in Md. Bazaar Block. The confidence obtained by the group made them set up a unit in the village with a loan of Rs.3 lakh from PBGB, Md.bazar branch and purchased raw materials with the help of ASSN. This helped them to fulfill their dream for a single unified unit where all the ladies would congregate and manufacture Decorative candles.
Initially they started marketing their candles through Srijoni Green Producer Co. Limited. The members of the group now procure raw materials from Kolkata themselves and that has helped the SHG to reduce costs thereby giving each member of the group a monthly earning of Rs.6,000/-. At present the group has Rs.1.40 lakh as savings in its account. All the members of the group are happy as they are able to contribute for the higher education of their children. Recently, they have decided to expand their business on a pilot basis to sell their finished products in pockets of Md. Bazaar block, Bolpur as also in Durgapur and Bardhaman.
Source : Creating Livelihoods, Changing Lives