Celebrating Women’s Day with helpless women who have now scripted success stories
Being financially independent can liberate and empower women in a big way. It bridges the gap between pseudo-independence where they depend on men and their families for financial support and complete independence where they are fully empowered, earning and even supporting other women.
When a woman becomes dependent on herself for her financial security, she is not only more confident with the decisions she makes but also models as an encouragement for other women to follow.
Mysuru-based Koog-u Foundation celebrated its successful women beneficiaries on the International Women’s Day, 2023. These women are achievers in their respective fields, braving the COVID-19 pandemic, unemployment and personal loss.
The Foundation encouraged self-employment to mitigate the pandemic’s devastating effects on women living in abject poverty, especially in rural areas. These women needed special support to break the poverty trap.
An initial big push of cash, productive assets or items to trade and continuous handholding and mentoring to use these assets have led to lasting changes in the income of these women.
Cancer survivor leads a comfortable life
Rajamma, a 55-year-old cancer survivor, used to sell flowers to eke out a living. She approached the Koog-u Foundation three years ago as she had no money even to buy medicines for her treatment. To add to her woes, she had to shift her flower shop during the pandemic and her husband was in critical condition with COVID.
Koog-u Foundation counselled her and took the responsibility of restarting her flower business. It helped Rajamma get back on her feet and protected and saved her family from poverty. Today in 2023, Rajamma is a proud entrepreneur and is back in the flower business. She has expanded her trade by hiring women who lost their husbands during the pandemic.
Home-based beauty services
In another similar story, Kala Aravind, who was working in a beauty parlour in Mysuru, lost her job as small businesses were laying off workers during the pandemic. Koog-u Foundation stepped in and created a platform for her to provide home-based services. This gesture enabled her to continue working, earning and thriving. Today, Kala has hired three girls to provide home parlour services and wedding makeup services as well.
Deepa lost her husband in 2020 while she was expecting her baby. She walked into Koog-u office, in tears, explaining her dire situation. Today, Deepa is a proud co-owner of ParathaKart, a street eatery providing fresh stuffed parathas made from whole wheat.
Koog-u identified that domestic helpers were in great need of alternative income streams as many lost their jobs during the pandemic.
Providing rightful opportunity
“We shifted gears to ensure that whoever seeks help from Koog-u would receive a rightful opportunity to grow, empower themselves and be proud that they made it themselves,” Dr. Nandini Keshava, a neuro-physiologist and a Bharatnatyam dancer, who is the force behind this initiative, told Star of Mysore.
Jaya was a good cook and also used to cook for many households. She lost her job due to the pandemic as homeowners preferred self-cooking. “When Jaya approached us, we spoke to a couple of yoga learners and requested them to take lunch from her. The idea clicked and ‘lunch box’ is her main business now. She has given employment to four other needy women and they supply both lunch and dinner to Yoga learners,” Dr. Nandini said.
Similarly, Mahadevamma lost her husband during the peak of the pandemic and had no source of income to support herself and her family. She now runs the ParathaKart along with Deepa.
Through the mentorship provided by Koog-u, these women were not only able to start their own businesses to cater to local demands but were also making day-to-day business decisions without seeking any advice.