Name – Anitaben Ashwinbhai Barad
Village – Panadhar village, Kodinar, Gujarat
I came to know about ACF’s women SHG initiative back in 2014. My family’s financial condition was not very good at that time. My husband was the sole earner in the family with a monthly income of Rs 5000. However, this was not enough. My son was in his 12th standard and was staying in a hostel. Expenses were high but income was very limited. I tried helping out my husband by working on daily wages but earning was not regular and was meagre.
Joining SHG made that real difference in my life. Though saving 100 Rs every month was not very easy, but I was committed and so were the other women in the group. Gradually, I started reaping benefits from regular savings. I was very active in all the initiatives taken up by ACF for women empowerment and soon became a member of the SorathMahilaMandal (women’s federation). Through partnerships, the federation also took up several initiatives like promoting smokeless chulha (stove) and induction cooktop.
In 2 years, I had gain the reputation of a progressive entrepreneur and social leader amongst community members. Women in the village shared their problems with me and we jointly took every possible step to mitigate their challenges and bring societal changes. I was gaining confidence and was also determined to work for the women in my community.
In 2015, when ACF approached me to implement the internet project, I was not very sure. Forget internet, women (including me) didn’t even own a smartphone! But the ACF team was confident. This was a project by Google, which was an alien for all of us at that point of time and has now become our best friend
I was nervous but excited too. Carrying 2 electronic tablets, 2 smartphones, power bank, sim cards and memory card and riding a bicycle was interesting. I was amongst the women brigade for spreading digital literacy. Since 2015, I have reached out to 7000 women from 10 villages and made a whopping earning of Rs 70000!
Internet has opened up a whole new world for us women. Quoting my example, I run a beauty parlour in the village. Now I just google the latest makeup and hairstyles, watch videos on YouTube to learn about it. It’s all so easy! My customers are happy and the business is growing fast.
Not only my financial status is improving but I am being seen as a respectable person in the village.
“Log poochtehain, wo internet teacher Anitabenkahanhai?” (People ask about me and refer me as internet teacher Anitaben)
I am faster in my work than before. Now I don’t use the bicycle. I purchased by own scooter. It saves my time.
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