Meet Udhampur’s Koushalya Devi, who fought against all odds to become ‘lakhpati’   

Udhampur:   Like other housewives in rural India, 41-year-old Koushalya Devi of Bali Village in Udhampur district had no source of income until 2013. Her husband, Mehar Singh’s financial situation was also quite similar. PHE daily wager by profession, Singh would get Rs. 4500 salary, that too irregularly.

So, to lift her family out of the curse of poverty, Koushalya Devi decided to break the typical gender stereotypes prevalent in the rural setup and join mission UMEED on the call of a Hyderabad based company in the year 2013.

“When I joined UMEED as a bookkeeper I was mocked by the women as well as men of my village equally. Even my family was not ready to support me. But I remained steadfast over my decision and kept on doing the things assigned to me under the mission,” says Devi, adding, “soon after joining the mission, I somehow convinced more women of my village and made a self-help group of 10 women initially”.

Koushalya Devi and other women work in a self-help group in Bali Village of Udhampur district.

Encouraged by her leadership skills, Koushalya Devi says, thereafter she didn’t look back and made many more self-help groups gradually.

Three months after the establishment, Koushalya Devi’s self-help group was infused with a capital of Rs. 15000 by the government.

“As the amount was low, I distributed it among three other women of my group who were actually in need,” tells the woman entrepreneur of Udhampur district who was recently applauded by Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha during a government programme held in Chenani Tehsil of Udhampur district.

Around one year after her joining of mission UMEED, Koushalya Devi’s self-help group was infused with another loan capital of Rs. 50000. This time, Koushalya Devi used the money to purchase a jersey cow.

Owner of around 40 kanals of land, the woman entrepreneur says: “By using the loan amount, I started a dairy business and it helped me earn a fixed monthly income of Rs. 6000”.

Followed by this, the woman started tailoring business along and made more income. Seeing her activeness, Devi was gradually promoted as mobiliser, trainer of the village organization and then cluster coordinator of the mission UMEED. Pertinently, a cluster coordinator looks after the work of 8 village organizations under the mission UMEED.

Claiming that her journey of becoming a successful entrepreneur wasn’t easy, Koushalya Devi says: “when I was promoted as a mobiliser, I had to attend a training programme in Hyderabad but my parents were not comfortable in sending me out of state alone. So I had to go to the south Indian city against the will of my parents”.

“But this training helped me understand the mission and its objectives completely,” she asserts.

“And I applied this knowledge practically by purchasing a dumper using the fifth installment of Rs. 10 lakh loan provided to our group by the government,” the woman further claims, who’s now earning in lakhs.

“I’m making a decent income of Rs. 50000 per month now and this has made me entirely self-reliant. My children are studying in good schools and I’ve become a role model for other women as well as men of my village,” adds the jubilant entrepreneur.

Devi wishes to see all the unemployed and uneducated women becoming self-reliant “but to see that happening they have to be good decision makers”.


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