Identifying and Honing Their Skills
After 10 days of CSS training on making LED bulbs, a group of 20 members (6 male and 14 female) from Kollapathy Panchayat in Thuriyur block, Trichy district formed an enterprise group (EG) and registered it as Challenger LED Bulb. In this group, four male members are physically challenged. All the members in the group have completed their secondary level of education and three are undergraduates. Members are in the age group of 25–40 years. The women members in the group are involved in the NREGA program and work as farm labourers. As they do not have regular paid jobs, they used to continuously seek jobs wherever available, particularly in their locality.
During March 2022, the Vaazhndhu Kaattuvom Project (VKP) team created awareness in the self-help group members on various schemes available within the Project and how to avail it. In that, they were interested to know whether training could be conducted in their village itself and based on the interest of the members whether they could form an EG. Already in the group, four members are familiar with electrical work. At the same time, the usage of LED bulbs is increasing, so it is interesting to learn new things and thereby enhance their incomes.
From Initial Hesitation to Confidence Initially, family members of the group were hesitant to participate in LED bulb making, as it involved working with electricity and soldering and these women did not have much knowledge on these. In April 2022, they decided to learn, saying they could drop out if it was found difficult. But the situation turned, and they were able to learn quickly because the work mostly involves assembling with minimal soldering and plugging. Of course, while doing these one should be careful. And the trainer explained the minute details clearly and made them understand easily. During 15 days’ training, they learnt how to make 9 watts, 12 watts and ACDC (bulb which works in both AC and DC). During the training, 25 members made 200 bulbs and sold them. This encouraged the members to make the bulbs continuously.
Putting Their Skills into Practice
Later, they formed the group, and with the raw materials given during the training, they made another 100 bulbs and sold them to local shops and in the Thuriyur region. In the month of July, the group received an order through the trainer to make 500 LED bulbs. Within 4 days, five members in the group completed making them and sold them at Rs 80/-per piece of 9 watts bulb, at Rs 110/- per 12 watts bulb and at 350/- for ACDC bulbs. As this was the first order, the group did not make any profit from this effort. The plan is to buy raw materials for next order, which is for 1000 bulbs. Recently, they received a start-up fund from the Project, and hereafter they will share the profit. They also approached builders and Panchayat members for getting orders, and they plan to produce bulbs for street lights and local shops also. A random survey from the market showed that each shop requires 40 bulbs in a month. So planning is to be done accordingly. Before training, they were thinking ”ethu romba kastama erukumnuanaithu easy work”. In a day, if they work continuously, they can make 50 to 100 bulbs.
Achieving Self Reliance
Instead of searching for a job often, if this kind of skill is acquired, one can sit and earn in one place; and that too sitting at home, and doing the job is easy. The timely support by the Project helps enhance the skill and also generate additional income to the family. The women members say “by seeing how we make these bulbs, others too are interested in doing it. Among 20 members, 16 members are new to this skill, which they find easy and successful. Also, they receive positive feedback from the shops about the bulbs.