The story of how a small grassroots women’s movement in Rajasthan has blossomed into a vibrant and innovative business that is empowering hundreds of small farmer-entrepreneurs and rural women.
Here’s a business model that demonstrates that rural women-centric enterprises can work. The journey began with Sakhi, a CSR initiative of Manjari Foundation and Hindustan Zinc Ltd. that mobilized rural women into Self Help Groups as a means to facilitate their savings and access to affordable credit. The response was overwhelming, and their success led to the formation of Apni Saheli and Sakhi Utpadan Samiti, two fully women-owned enterprises running multiple production units across rural Rajasthan that curate a range of handcrafted pickles, pulses, dairy, cold-pressed oil, spices, and honey.
Katori was established in 2017, in response to the growing success of our collectives and the need to market them to the market. Through Katori, Sakhi’s products have reached the shelves of reputed brands like Big Basket, SPAR Hypermarket, Amazon, and Flipkart, as well as small-scale ‘Kirana’ entrepreneurs, generating better returns for our women farmers and entrepreneurs.
Regular training enables these women to sharpen their knowledge and skills, and manage the units independently. “Joining the pickling unit has changed my life,” exclaims Gudiya Kanwar. “I learned how to preserve and package agricultural produce for the gourmet market, with minimal processing, yet keeping freshness and authenticity intact. Thanks to Sakhi, I am able to single-handedly support my son’s education with my earnings,” she says.
Like Gudiya, more than 200 rural women are engaged full-time in making Katori products, earning a livelihood and a reputation in their communities. At the same time, an even larger network of 2500+ micro and small farmers-entrepreneurs (also predominantly women), are adopting cleaner agricultural and dairy practices under the guidance of the Manjari Foundation, making available fresh, chemical-free produce of premium quality. “Manjari gave me the confidence to adopt many new techniques that have drastically improved the quality of soil on my land. I am now convinced about the benefits of organic farming,” says Sumitra, one of the many women farmers in Katori’s network who are buying into sustainable growing practices.
It is a model that empowers at three levels, all at once! On one hand, farmer-entrepreneurs are adopting better practices and linking up directly with women’s enterprises, and on the other hand, women’s enterprises are engaging with small-scale retail entrepreneurs (Kirana stores) at the supply-end, eliminating middlemen. “It’s a win-win for everyone, connecting entrepreneurs at both ends of the spectrum and generating better returns for everyone,” says Amrish Mehrotra, Start-Up Oasis, Delhi.
Visit us at www.katori.co.in to check out our latest range of gourmet ghee, honey, spices, pulses, cold-pressed oils, culinary pastes, and fresh dairy products, and place your order now!