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Empowering women through entrepreneurship

Women stands on dry terrain in Solapur.

SSP works to inspire rural women to become entrepreneurs

When we visited Solapur earlier this year, we were overwhelmed by two things in particular- the heatwave and the generosity of the people there. We were there to learn about the phenomenal work done by an organization called Swayam Shikshan Prayog (SSP). We had heard great things about how SSP was founded to aid the process of reconstruction and rehabilitation after the Latur earthquake in 1993. The organization then grew to work in the sectors of women empowerment, women-led climate-resilient farming systems, and water and sanitation.

SSP works to inspire rural women to become entrepreneurs by guiding and hand-holding them through the entire journey of becoming self-resilient businesswomen. We spent our time in Solapur understanding the success of the Women’s Entrepreneurship and Leadership Initiative (WELI) program that is undertaken by SSP. We also visited Sakhi Samudai Kosh (SSK), the lending arm of SSP. This was my first field visit to a partner organization and what struck me most was the connection that the organization cherished and maintained with the community. I was awed to see that the organization knew each of the community members personally and took interest in every step of their business, guiding them throughout the process.

The uniqueness of the WELI program coupled with access to market and credit is what makes the intervention a huge success. On understanding the program thoroughly and spending time with the WELI field staff, we realized that our financial literacy content would be a great added value to the program. Hence we explored this partnership not just with credit access in mind, but also looked at how we could incorporate elements of financial literacy (that we had already worked on as a part of Swabhimaan) to WELI to augment the benefits of the program.

Lakshmi Dattatre Magar, 45, is a flower, vegetable and dairy farmer. This year, she lost flowers, vegetables and grass (for cows) due to the drought in Maharashtra. She wants a loan to set up an irrigation system for her farm. Due to hardships, her children could not study, but had to work. She wants her grandson to study.

Lakshmi Dattare, 45 working on her farm in Solapur with her livestock.

SSP/SSK has made great strides in promoting entrepreneurship and non-agrarian employment opportunities to the community members well acquainted with the unstable and volatile climate of the region. Some of these businesses included masala units, condiment stores, tailoring units, and floriculture.

Something I will never forget about the visit is the lip-smacking spicy food, the sticky weather, the refreshing lemonade (at every community member’s house that we visited) and the contagious pride in the eyes of the entrepreneurs that we visited. Every one of the entrepreneurs that we met had a well-established business plan and were hopeful of setting up or expanding their businesses.

Rang De Investee prepares dough with her daughter and mother

Partnering with SSK is a step towards building self-reliant communities.

With more and more women aspiring to set up prosperous businesses and become active breadwinners in their families, SSK seeks to partner with us to meet the credit needs of the community. Rang De aims at supporting these women entrepreneurs as they venture into new areas of businesses to become self-reliant leaders of the community.

You can now fund the women entrepreneurs of Solapur on

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