Jammu and Kashmir women entrepreneurs in the Self Help Groups from various districts across the UT are scripting numerous success stories towards transforming their lives and the rural economy as well. These successful business women are fast marching towards their entrepreneurship journey with UMEED scheme of J&K Rural Livelihood Mission (JKRLM) aided by training and soft loans. National Rural Livelihoods Mission is being run in J&K as Jammu and Kashmir State Rural Livelihoods Mission (Umeed).  The UMEED is turning the wheel of transformation for J&K women to become progressive and self-employed entrepreneurs. The Rural Livelihood Mission aims to reduce poverty by building strong grassroots institutions of poor, engaging them in gainful livelihood interventions and ensuring appreciable improvement in their income on a sustainable basis. JKRLM has now emerged as s movement with one lakh rural women brought under the ambit of this ambitious Mission in the current financial year making it a network of 5 lakh women treading the path towards economic development. UMEED has the potential to give wings to aspirations of rural women who dream of becoming economically independent. Jammu and Kashmir State Rural Livelihoods Mission (Umeed) has a mandate to reach out to 66 per cent of the rural population across the erstwhile 125 blocks linking them to sustainable livelihood opportunities. The mission nurtures these women beneficiaries till they come out of poverty and enjoy a decent quality of life, informed an official spokesperson. The programme, he added, is under implementation in 96 blocks across the 20 districts. So far, 405226 poor women have been brought within the fold of SHGs while 4185 Village Organizations (VOs) and 442 Cluster Level federations have been formed. Besides, 46720 SHGs have been constituted and uploaded on MIS. The members have contributed Rs. 135.98 crore as their own internal savings. The bank accounts have been opened for all the SHGs thus achieving 100 per cent target.  In March 2019, Pammi Devi along with other Self Help Group members of Bishnah block undertook a 30 day long training programme initiated by JKRLM UMEED at the Block Training Centre. They acquired the skills of making Jams, pickles, sauces, chutneys and concentrates. The training was a part of JKRLM’s vision of making the rural women self-reliant enabling them to start a lucrative livelihood for themselves. Seeing her zest for making her life meaningful and become an earning hand for her family, the Mission motivated and helped her to start a food processing and preservation unit in Rehal in convergence with the department of Horticulture in April 2019. The Mission provided her a loan of around Rs 2 lakh from CLF and helped her obtain subsidy from the Department of Horticulture. It turned out to be a very successful venture with the beneficiary ladies earning over Rs 62000 in 2019. They got the opportunity to sell their products in SARAS fair in Delhi and other local markets. It has become a group initiative as around 7 ladies from various SHGs have also joined hands to work together in this unit. Similarly, encouraged by the enabling atmosphere created by the government Reecha Sharma, SHG member from Kishtwar district, has established disposable products unit and provided employment to four other members of the group. An official at UMEED says that hundreds of women are not only scripting their success stories in Jammu and Kashmir but are motivating others to come out of poverty and become successful entrepreneurs. According to the officials, Umeed is immensely helping the women entrepreneurs to exhibit and market their products. Women Haat Srinagar provides a platform for the SHG members to exhibit their products and services. Every year a minimum of 5000 women get a chance to exhibit their products. He informed that Umeed Women Haat Jammu is also coming up soon. Recently, two women entrepreneurs of JKRLM SAATH, Kiran from Reasi and Ghazala from Kupwara were felicitated by the Ministry of MSME with the “emerging entrepreneur” award for excellence in entrepreneurship. Under UMEED, SHG products go global and till now seven SHG products are available on e-commerce platforms. Besides, 40 such new products made by SHGs would be made available on Amazon, Flipkart and Meesho. According to available data, SHG members have accessed a whooping amount of Rs 1000 crore for livelihood generation. In a bid to track progress of women Self Help Groups of JKRLM vis a vis livelihood generation and manufacturing of products, Chief Secretary, Arun Kumar Mehta, recently e- inaugurated SHG livelihood tracking portal. Terming women as vital agents of change, Lieutenant Governor J&K, Manoj Sinha, said that the government is creating an ideal and gender inclusive ecosystem where they have better access to education and economic growth. He said social and economic equality for women is integral to achieving rapid development. “Women empowerment and their equal presence in the technical sector are important to build a strong community, a resilient state and a stronger country,” Sinha said. A beneficiary of UMEED, Taira Bhat, has all praise and gratitude for government who says, “We are thankful for this Umeed scheme which has empowered me and my father to open a shop to live a dignified life breaking the web of poverty engulfing us before. We are extremely thankful and grateful to LG.”

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