5 Village Women up against all odds in an entrepreneurial path

Rajeshwari, Valliyammai, Jayabarathi, Manjula and Mahalakshmi live in a village called Notchikaadu near Chidambaram in Tamilnadu. Until August 2017, these 5 women were living the usual life of every other woman in the village. Their typical day would be spent by undertaking a labour work as daily wages like doing weeding in a farm field or by participating in a tank rehabilitation project or by going for a construction work. These works would fetch them somewhere between 180 rupees to 250 rupees a day. Their daily earnings are mostly spent for their day to day expenses and savings has always been a dream for them.
These women have heard of I Support Farming (ISF) through their fellow women. They are aware that ISF helps farmers but these women realise that they are not farmers as they do not have any lands. Still, they wanted to explore if there is any chance that ISF might support them so that they could change their lives.
On a Wednesday morning, these women turned up to our office. One of our executives enquired on the purpose of their visit. Being the first time, they have entered into an office, they were a little nervous and fumbled on the answers. One of the women asked if they can get a loan from ISF. Our executive politely said that ISF does not provide any loans but guided them to a bank that was just opposite to our office. The ladies started to feel that they are not approaching the matter in the right direction but they were determined to make a change in their lives. One of the women said
"Sir, We want to meet your owner"
The executive was a little taken aback by this request and mentioned that they come only on Saturdays. The women left the office with a sense of satisfaction. That day in the evening, they met and discussed what should be spoken when they meet the officers on Saturday.
It was the Saturday morning that they were expecting very eagerly. They did not want to take even a small chance that would make them miss the opportunity and hence they were at the office entrance sharp at 8.30. I entered the office at 11.45 AM after visiting all the farms and was almost exhausted. I could see the women with a bunch of papers in their hand and could see a sense of urgency in their faces. I enquired about the purpose why they are here. One of the women started off with a question
“Sir, you are helping farmers. There are people in villages like us, who do not have a land but we are involved in agriculture as labourers. Will you not help us? We are in more need than the farmers as the farmers atleast have land to cultivate but we do not have anything”
There was a moment of silence in the office. I said “Yes. We will help you but tell me what help you need”. The women explained me about their discussions on Wednesday evening, in which they agreed to start a dairy farm together. They asked for 2 dairy cows each, which they would rear in their back yard. They had made arrangements to make a thatched shed to house 10 cows and have spoken to another farmer next door to take an acre of land on lease in which they can grow green fodder. All of us in the office were fascinated by the determination of these women and the plans they have made. We made up our mind to help them but we cannot offer them a loan as we are not a micro-finance company. We decided to make a partnership agreement where in all the investments will be done by ISF and as working partners the women will be responsible for day to day operations of the dairy unit.

We have recently signed the partnership agreement in a farmers meeting and the ladies have already sown fodder grass. Once the fodder is established, we will buy the cows and the women will start on their entrepreneurship journey. We wish them all good luck and please join us in sending their wishes. You can email your wishes to them at info@isupportfarming.com and we will make sure it reaches them.