Although, commissioning of MARG Karaikal port has spurred lot of economic activities in the region both directly and indirectly, the rural women folk in the vicinity stayed away from economic activities, partly due to lack of education, employable skills matching the market demands and most importantly lack of self-confidence to play an active role in the vibrant economy. These women were dependent on their husbands for their day to day expenses. Gender and development issues have revealed that wherever women have had equitable access to education, economic opportunity and social support system, family and societies have benefited and MARG Karaikal port strongly believes in this philosophy.
The CSR team of the port has conceived a novel innovative concept called ‘Uzhaikum Karangal’ to help the rural and coastal women become self-reliant and economically independent, through promotion of SHGs. Launched in June 2010, with 22 members, the Uzhaikum Karangal project has gained momentum and been an inspiration in forming 4 more SHGs covering 107 rural women overall from the villages, near the Port. SHGs have been instrumental in promoting domestic savings allows the members to take projects that generate supplementary income for their families.
The project also aims to ensure the economic & social benefits that the Port generates percolates to reach the disadvantaged section of the community particularly the women folks. Self Help Group (SHG) formation and encouraging women to access alternative means of livelihood is one of the prime objectives of the project.
The first venture by this women group was a Coffee kiosk at MARG Karaikal Port started during August 2010 by installing 4 vending machines at a monthly lease rental of Rs.400/machine. The working capital met from SHGs savings and income generation from the Coffee kiosk. Then SHG started mobile recharging business to the employees, contractors and workers in the port.
The Xerox copying service to the general public, workers, truck drivers, vendors of the port was another income avenue started by the SHGs. The Xerox machine was taken on monthly lease rental of Rs.3500. The Port provided the place and electricity at free of cost besides one CSR personnel to assist them on a continuous basis on micro-enterprises management, book keeping and also to scale-up their activities further.
MLN Acharyulu, Executive Director, Marine Infrastructure, MARG Group is proud of the successful SHG project and states “We have been very particular in gender mainstreaming & inclusivity in our community development projects. I am glad that the members of our SHGs were quick enough to take up leadership role and proactively grabbed the opportunities offered to them to improve their family incomes and create alternate sources of livelihood. The involvement, dedication and perseverance of these women folk encourages us to promote more women groups in our vicinity and plan out innovative ways to improve their socio-economic status”
Commenting on the successful model of women development & empowerment, Capt. K. N. Ramesh , Chief Operating Officer , Karaikal Port Private Limited says “It is heartening to see women from our neighbourhood come together as a group for their self development. We are happy that our CSR efforts towards women development have been successful in pulling out women from their cocoon and helping them progress both socially & economically through economic generation activities. I could see the spirit of entrepreneurship among each women in our SHGs and wish they succeed in their future endeavours too”
In its quest for region development, MARG Karaikal port is exploring avenues to support the women towards sustainable economic growth. The port firmly believes that empowering women through education, capacity building, enterprise creation and leadership development supported by an enabling environment for mainstreaming their concerns is an essential component of Women empowerment.
About MARG Parivarthan:
The CSR arm of MARG group was born out of a vision to master plan the existing social fabric. Inclusive growth has been the guiding philosophy of MARG through which the neighbourhood population is included in the development processes and the progress is two way and mutual. MARG as an organization have redefined the fundamentals of urbanization by creating eco systems where surrounding environment is an integral part of MARG’s forward march.
MARG CSR initiatives have been developed as a business model, well integrated within its business operation. The commitment is for a complete SOCIAL TRANSFORMATION of neighborhoods with sustained and diligent focus through a spectrum of development programmes under 9 different thematic areas viz: Education, Health, Skill Training & Employment, Community Infrastructures, Environment, Relief & Rehabilitation, Welfare programmes, Culture & Sports promotion and Social Cause promotion. website: http://karaikalport.com/