Before and after light

District: Saraikela, Jharkhand Village: Chakri LaBL Partner Organization: Youth Unity for Voluntary Action (YUVA), Jamshedpur

For Hemanti Sardar, there was life before she became the first woman entrepreneur of Chakri village, and there is life after. Earlier, Hemanti would hardly leave the confines of the house. But now, she has a different story to tell.

Hemanti, who had never undertaken an income generating activity in her life became the first woman entrepreneur of her village, managing a solar charging station, and is proud of the earnings she can call her own. Because of the money she now earns from renting out the solar lanterns, Hemanti has also gained access to credit services from the self-help group in her village. “The respect people have for me in our village has definitely gone up. Even women who rent lanterns from me have gained more respect because the lanterns have allowed them to be more productive, aware and skilled and contribute financially to their homes. Though I was very apprehensive initially to become an entrepreneur, but after YUVA spoke to me and explained how this could change my life, I decided to take the step, and I am extremely happy with my decision.” Hemanti was chosen to be the entrepreneur by the villagers because she had learned to read and write at a basic level and would be a good candidate to handle the accounts of the business. With help from YUVA, she took her basic skills to a significantly higher level and learnt to perform real-world calculations to run her solar charging station successfully.

Chakri village generates almost all its income from running poultry farms or from farming activities and both have benefited greatly from the solar lanterns that are used at night. According to Hemanti, chores like feeding chickens or cleaning their cages have turned from being painful to being almost enjoyable. The lamps have also kept snakes and insects out of the fields and homes, leaving villagers less fearful. Chakri also has its own school and the children are studying with the hope of realizing their dreams.

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