One of the western states of India has nine million farmers, and many of them are in dire straits. Because of the poor conditions and circumstances, there is a high rate of farmer suicide. According to the last available government data, this has happened to about three thousand farmers ever year. Because of the failure of the farming, many tribal people are seeking jobs as daily laborers instead. Poverty, clean drinking water, malnutrition, and being slaves to the animistic practices are some of the key issues they face. They spend a huge amount of money per month on the rituals to ward off evil spirits.
In spite of this, God is moving in this area. We have been involved in training the leaders of one of these tribes in partnership with other organizations. As a result of a previous Community Transformation training, twelve Transformation Groups (TGs) for women and four TGs for men are functioning among this people group in this area. “We have started a few more groups, but the new groups are not functioning properly because of bad experiences with the government,” commented one TG. These groups aim for holistic transformation of communities.
When asked about advantages of these groups, some shared: “We share our problems and concerns with one another” and “We feel more strongly bonded with one another as the result of TGs.” At the end of the training, they were encouraged to form new Transformation Groups, and also to conduct regular weekly meetings.
To help them start small business activities, we trained them on “Income Generating Activities”. Some of the participants were already involved in small businesses but had not been successful. This training taught them how to be a successful entrepreneur. They were taught on the following topics:
- Why do businesses fail?
- Will people buy my product?
- Will I earn money?
- Can I run this business?
- How do I start business?
- The 5Ps – (product, price, people , place, promotion)
Participants were motivated to learn more about all of these topics. “I was managing a sari business (buying in the wholesale market and selling in villages), but I did not calculate how much money I invested compared to how much I earned. Most of the time I took large amounts of money from the business for family use. Because of that, I could not sustain my business, even though there was a good market for me. This training helped me to learn from my mistakes. Now I can restart my business and manage it more successfully,” said one of the participants. There were 66 participants total that have now planned to start their own small business.