Hindalco’s ‘Project Swabalambi’ Empowers Women Of Odisha’s Sambalpur

Sambalpur: Not long ago, women like Nilima Sahu, from Hirakud village of Sambalpur district, struggled to meet daily needs.

But then Hindalco Hirakud, a unit of Aditya Birla Group, started ‘Project Swabalambi’, and life changed for her and their families.

‘Project Swabalambi’ was devised to empower women of Sambalpur by forming self-help groups (SHGs) for socio-economic upliftment of those living the periphery of the Hindalco plant.

“We are concerned about the welfare of women from this region and by promoting the SHGs we want to instil among them a sense of entrepreneurship and independence so that they can live with dignity and self-esteem. Our engagement not only promotes SHGs but empowers women to become entrepreneurs by helping them to start independent business such as tailoring, phenyl making etc,” said Head of Hindalco’s Hirakud Cluster Kailash Pandey.

Members of these groups were imparted capacity-building training to understand intricacies of SHG management. They were linked with banks, and financial assistance was arranged for them to engage in various income-generating activities such as production of hand gloves, preparation of processed food items, mushroom cultivation, floriculture, horticulture, dairy, piggery, satu making, grass broom making, phenyl production, tailoring activities, and handicrafts besides involvement in mid-day meal project and PDS activities.

These activities resulted in remarkable changes in the economic condition of the members, said Pandey.

The project, which started with 25 SHGs, now has 64 SHGs with 765 members under its umbrella, and Rs 83.25 lakh savings in their bank accounts.

“These SHGs also availed loan amounting to Rs 95.75 lakh from nationalized banks to undertake income generation activities”, informed Pandey.

Members of different SHGs thanked Hindalco for introducing initiatives which brought a positive change in their lives and social status.

“Here we are working not only for our earning but also helping ICDS by providing hygienic foods for children. We are thankful to Hindalco CSR and Aditya Birla Group for providing us opportunity for formation of SHG and coordinating with govt machinery for increasing our supply to Govt,” said Tanushree Sahu, president of Annapurna SHG, Gandhinagar, which supplies chhatua to Anganwadi centres.

Dhankauda Block CDPO Puspanjali Mishra lauded Hindalco’s welfare measures for the community.

“Hindalco’s efforts towards women empowerment are a good initiative for the development of society and it makes the women mass self-sustainable and most of the SHGs are getting bank linkage facility with social security coverage and able to help their families both socially and economically,” Mishra said.

The Aditya Birla Group’s CSR activities — conducted under the aegis of Aditya Birla Centre for Community Initiatives and Rural Development chaired by Rajashree Birla — reaches out to over 5 lakh people in 128 villages in Odisha.

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