Training Phase (From Individuals to Enterprise Group)
The Virutcham Banana Fibre Enterprise Group comprising 15 women is located in Melamathur Panchayat in Thirupparankundram block in Madurai district. It was formed after the members underwent 30 days of training under the Community Skill School (CSS) initiative of the Vaazhndhu Kaattuvom Project (VKP), held during December 2021 and January 2022. They learnt to make 15 different types of baskets (vegetable basket, storage basket, and laundry basket), pencil stand, and rope, all from banana fibre. During the training period, banana fibre and mould were given by the district team for practicing, and it was very useful to the members. The trainer also provided marketing opportunities for the products they made. All the baskets they made were sold to Om Banana Fibre Crafts Ltd. in Madurai district (which is the trainer’s business) and they received some income from it. During training, they learned that they could make a profit from banana waste if they formed an Enterprise Group (EG).
Genesis of the Enterprise Group with Project Support
By knowing the importance of forming an EG, all 15 women trainees belonging to the same village (8 members are banana growers) came together as an EG and received a start-up fund of Rs 75,000/- from the Project. It helped them to invest in buying banana fibre. Banana fibre collected from one acre of land costs Rs 15,000 approximately, and four different types of mold are required by each person (Rs 2,000 per mold), apart from transport cost. In one instance, they took banana fibre from one of their members.
The Process Towards Becoming Self Reliant
Initially, for making baskets and rope, they took a long time to complete, but after 3 months of practice, they picked up speed. Now, in 5 days they can all produce 2,000 pieces of rope and 200 pieces of bouquet baskets. On the basis of the order and delivery time, they will produce it. In a month they could earn more than Rs. 1,20,000 which comes to approximately Rs 8,000 per month per person. It depends upon the orders, of course, and the income will vary every month. The members will also sell the products in the local markets and also within the district itself. They are called for making ornamental items for weddings and other functions. They also get local orders from shops in the neighbourhood, apart from the orders from Om Banana Fibre Crafts Ltd. The training received at the CSS has enabled them to earn additional income as well as build their skills.