For most of the world’s poor, micro-entrepreneurship is the only way to make a living. In India, one estimate puts the number of urban poor who are self-employed at 40 percent. The Navodyami Program, launched by Deshpande Foundation creates an eco-system for micro-entrepreneurs. It enables micro-entrepreneurs in non-urban areas to create their own niche and build sustainable enterprises.
After training in business finance, sustainability, and scalability, the participants showcase their improved business plans to a distinguished panel who assess their eligibility. Chosen Navodyamis receive highly customized assistance, advice and on-ground support from the program management team.
One such Navodyami is Nagarathna Maheleshappa Kati, who hails from Nadvinhalli of Saundatti taluk and prepares varieties of delicious food items from Uttara Karnataka (North Karnataka). She has been involved in the catering business since 30 years.
Being a victim of child marriage, losing her husband at the age of 18, and raising her two-year-old son amidst poverty were hard for Nagarathna. Not knowing what to do for a living, she packed her things and started living with her matriarchal family. But as things began to get difficult, she took a firm decision to making a living on her own.
She began cooking and serving food to the teachers of a nearby school. Initially, she used to provide meals for INR 10 and INR 15. But as days passed, the prices increased. As years passed, the quality, quantity, and varieties of dishes increased too. Nagarathna started participating in exhibitions and won many awards and certificates in the taluk and district levels. All these encouraged her to do well in her business but she lacked the know-how of actual business management.
Nagarathna got introduced to Navodyami and from then on her business and living standards have enhanced. With a team of 12 women in her kitchen, she prepares different kinds of rotis as well as various chutney powders and sweet dishes.
“Now the turnover of my business is INR 1 lakh and I get 40 percent profit, which is good enough for me. My son completed his B.Ed and is capable of earning. I am happy that we are leading a decent life and helping others too who are in need. Thanks to Navodyami for giving us confidence, training and connecting us to mentors who guided us to improve our business. Now, we are yielding the fruit of our hard work.”