Launches “Tree of Wealth” project
KOHIMA, OCTOBER 30: The ‘Uplifting Women Street Vendors’ project of the Nagaland-based Entrepreneurs Associates (EA), is apparently making an impact at the grassroots.
As astonishing as it might sound, on Thursday, women street vendors in Kohima were rewarded on stage for saving a margin of their profit generated from selling vegetables. A glimpse into the lives of the street vendors ~ albeit underscores the pragmatism behind the initiative.
The initiative was necessitated when the Entrepreneurs Associates (EA) realized that there were “no noticeable improvements in the lives of the vendors” despite years of back breaking work. Flawed business models and lack of business acumen meant that the street vendors managed to save enough money from profits to expand their trade or improve their lives. So, the EA, as part of its holistic approach to impact the lives of the local street vendors for the better, announced a cash incentive for those who managed to show substantial savings from the sale proceeds. Two weeks from this day, a bus would be put into service for women street vendors in Phek area to facilitate market linkages.
Empowerment and sustainability are key areas of focus at EA, the official website of the group led by CEO and Coordinator Neichute Doulo who has earned plaudits for his efforts towards transforming Naga society with a focused approach of unleashing the powers of economic empowerment. Doulo was the first Naga recipient of the International Ashoka Fellow, headquartered in Washington D C, USA in 2001. He was also awarded the ‘Social Entrepreneur of the Year 2016, India’ by the prestigious Schwab Foundation – World Economic Forum.
Among the few projects being implemented by the EA, its initiative ‘Uplifting Women Street Vendors’ directly addresses the problems faced by women vendors and provides awareness as well as training for them. The intervention into the lives of women vendors is apparently holistic with the EA taking into consideration financial and legal aspects, as well as health and hygiene, business ethics, customer service and savings, as well as market linkages.
Speaking to Nagaland Page on the sidelines of the event organized on Thursday last to felicitate women vendors, Advisor, EA, Neikule Doulo said that while imparting training to women street-vendors across the state, it was found out that people living in remote villages were facing the problem of getting their produce to towns. The key factor was the logistics behind hiring private vehicles, which apparently is not a feasible business option for this segment of street vendors.
Nagaland does not have shortages of fruits or vegetables, Doulo notes, but farmers and street vendors living in remote villages with poor road connectivity to towns fail to derive decent profits from their sales after paying for hire of private vehicles. She pointed out that while the Nagaland State Transport bus service is quite good in many districts of Nagaland, it is not the same in Phek area. “In order to address this issue, EA have been raising funds through well wishers and finally we have acquired a bus which will only be provided for women street-vendors”, Doulo informed.
Although the EA is yet to sort out the logistics for the bus service, Doulo assures that they would be ready to start the bus service for women street vendors from Phek area in the next two weeks which will help them reach the market places at Kohima and Dimapur. The bus service will be provided on rotation basis in different parts of Phek.
Doulo said the EA is yet to work out how much a street vendor would need to pay for availing the bus service, but assured that it would be subsidized, and will cost much less than the existing rate of hiring private vehicles.
And yes, the bus service will only be provided to women street vendors.
Queried on whether EA plans to usher in this new strategy in the rest of the districts, Doulo said that the bus service for Phek area is a pilot project and expansion of this model solely depends on its success.
Tree of Wealth
Apart from empowering women street-vendors and helping businesses grow in and around Nagaland, Entrepreneurs Associates in 2019 have also set an ambitious goal to plant 2 million fruit trees in 200 villages in Nagaland with the belief that it will impact the life of ten-thousand farmers.
Doulo said, “We (EA) have been working with farmers since 2002 and realized that a lot of our farmers don’t have additional income. The EA tree plantation project will incentivize and add additional income by establishing the “Tree of Wealth” project with the goal to plant 2 million trees in 200 villages impacting ten-thousand farmers over the next 5 years.”
“Under this programme, we have been encouraging villagers to take up fruit tree plantation. We have also been supplying avocado, lemon and guava saplings at subsidized rates to the farmers in tandem with the goals we have set for the next 5 years,” the EA Advisor stated.
Given the fact that millions of saplings are needed to achieve its goals, the EA clubbed Tree for Wealth project, the women street-vendors programme with the “Give back environmentally” project. Doulo explained that under the “Give back environmentally” project, EA is incentivising the street vendors by giving them Rs.1000 initially, after which a street vendor will have to nurture 150 saplings. The street vendors are expected to return 100 saplings to EA after which they will be paid another thousand rupees. Apart from this, EA will be providing the seeds and poly bags to women street-vendors to set up their own nursery.
Speaking on the lines of “Pay back environmentally” CEO, EA, Neichute Doulo presented a list of opportunities to the street vendors to set up nurseries for Australian Chestnuts and tree tomatoes which would apparently give huge returns to the farmers and the vendors themselves.
Set up in 2000, Entrepreneurs Associates (EA) promotes entrepreneurship as a viable alternative to Government jobs and as a tool for peace building. Currently, EA is the implementing agency for two Government Programmes- StartUp Village Entrepreneurship Programme (under the Nagaland State Rural Livelihoods Mission) and Farmers Producers Organisation (under the Department of Horticulture, Government of Nagaland).