VELMA’s (Vellore Mahalir Thittam) move to set up a total of 777 kiosks to be operated by women self-help groups (SHG) members has borne fruit as many expressed happiness at the public response, according to SHG members.
Started with the aim of being exclusive outlets for organic products created by the 677 beneficiaries, the idea was an initiative from the weekly ‘Namathu Sandhai’ where organic vegetables and fruits are marketed by farmers every Sunday in the old district board office premises.
According to Vijayalakshmi, a SHG member who operates the kiosk in the Collector’s office premises, “The daily earnings of around Rs 1,500 proves that people are now aware of the advantages of using organic products. The shop has helped me financially as poverty prevented me from continuing my studies after Class 10.”
Similarly, Shantha of Pinnayur in Anaicut panchayat union who operates a kiosk in that area said, “Being a graduate, I am unable to earn due to poverty but after setting up this kiosk, it has helped in feeding my family.”
Assistant project officer Ruban Austin who oversees the scheme said, “We aimed at ensuring a monthly income of slightly more than Rs 7,000 by SHG members and the scheme has proved that it works.”
Asked why some kiosks are still unopened despite being in prominent locations, he said, “Minor glitches like leaks are being rectified now and that is why it takes time to open other kiosks. However, he added that the “shop location was fixed by the beneficiary which in turn was based on family circumstances and they are directly responsible for its earnings.”
Of the 777 beneficiaries, 100 have availed Rs 80,000 loan each under the central government’s ‘Mudra scheme’ while the rest have availed Rs 50,000 loan each from banks. “SHGs are known to repay promptly and that is the reason why so many beneficiaries were given bank loans,” a bank official preferring anonymity concluded.