"We believe in building a sustainable life and ensuring consistent income for rural women. Earlier, women would farm the land, and the crops would be sold through middlemen. Women had to travel a considerable distance through the mountains just to reach the middlemen. Umang provides us with opportunities to become entrepreneurs. We have built self-help groups in all the villages, and the women farmers work within these groups. The fact that women are making and selling their produce, auditing the self-help groups and keeping the books and accounts, make for a sustainable model.
Umang started with only three members in 2001, and now there are 3,000 women who are involved in sustainable farming, producing and selling their own goods. I, along with the others, have become entrepreneurs, bankers and auditors. We are all shareholders in the company, and we use the money we earn for micro-credit, as a bank would. We managed a turnover of around INR 4 crore (over USD 600,000) this year!
For us, sustainability is a long-term solution to the problems of the women farmers. At Umang, we believe in trade, not aid."
Sunita Kashyap, secretary and founder Mahila Umang collective