‘UPLIFTING WOMEN STREET VENDORS’

‘UPLIFTING WOMEN STREET VENDORS’
Participants with resource persons and organisers during the workshop held for women vendors in Pfutsero Town on November 26.

 

Entrepreneurs Associates with Chakhesang Women Welfare Society holds workshop

 

Phek, November 27 (MExN): With the objective of reaching out to women vendors in Pfutsero Town of the Phek District, Entrepreneurs Associates (EA) in partnership with the Chakhesang Women Welfare Society (CWWS) organised a day long workshop for them on November 26. The programme is a continuation of the ‘Uplifting Women Street Vendors’ project being undertaken by EA.

 

It was informed in a press release that the work has been conceptualised to reach out to these last mile individuals involved in bridging the rural village economies with the urban centres. EA has therefore undertaken this novel initiative of connecting with women vendors who form a large section of the local workforce to understand their plight while also training them on financial literacy and management, provide credit linkages, inform them about their legal rights and link them to health care providers to alleviate their living standards.

 

The event which was held at Mission Centre, the headquarters of the Chakhesang Baptist Churches Council began with a devotional session which addressed issues concerning women. Speaking to the gathering, Vechulou Kanuo, the Secretary of the CWWS encouraged the women to give their best and stressed that “the Bible also clearly tells us that we need to work and earn our bread,” Vechulou also informed that they formed a very important link in the economic chain of the state.

 

Reiterating the importance of the women vendors who are the guardians of the indigenous economy Neikule Doulo, Master Franchisee, Aloha Mental Arithmetic also impressed upon on them their contributions to the local trading scene. The fact that they are creating value in the local produces which they mostly source from the remotest sections of the society implies their immense contributions to the livelihood of many rural people. Highlighting the dire need for Nagas to get more involved in entrepreneurial activities she encouraged the women to be the torch bearers in their families and society. Since they are self employed and do not receive monthly salaries she advised that they should “Pay themselves every day or month in the form of keeping aside some amount as savings”.

 

A detailed input on the need to save and why they should take it up was provided by Welhikro Mero, Branch Manager, EA Phek. He also introduced the various thrift programmes available under EA’s cooperative wing, EATACOL and encouraged them to participate in some of them.

 

About 60 women vendors from different marketing areas of the town participated in the first phase of the initiative at Pfutsero. Many of them admitted that this was perhaps their first time in such a programme which has thrown light to a new perspective of their work. Some of the women vendors also pledged to begin the process of keeping some money aside regularly for their future.

 

The interactions with these vendors also highlighted many difficulties faced by them regularly as they work under the harshest of working conditions. Absence of toilets and basic amenities like water supply in and around their work place are main problems for those who sell around the town. Meanwhile a large number of the women are also involved in transporting their goods to Kohima or Dimapur and they also communicated the complications caused in the absence of good public transport systems. Most of the vendors revealed that they travel through the “NST Night super bus” unable to afford hiring of private vehicles even though there are obvious risks of break downs at any place owing to the bad roads as well as the poor conditions of the vehicles. The scale of their business is also very small and yet arriving at the urban centres they are again subject to taxations from municipal committees and various groups.

 

The women therefore suggested that the state machinery as well as organisations working in the development sector should take stock of their problems and come up with some positive measures to help them. EA’s project in this neglected and overlooked sector hopes to study and research their impact while mapping out and providing interventions that will directly benefit them. These women have the potential to become a vibrant sector of our economy and the project hopes to achieve this.