Fifteen years back, a chunk of wax changed the life of Rupa Rani. Inside her, she built a place where she melted her worries and renewed her spring that has not dried up even today. Having been confronted by a polylemma, which had advantages and assurances, disadvantages as well as dangers, she walked the path of patience aided by her husband. And now, she is changing lives of many small time women entrepreneurs through the slow but sure prospect of empowerment.
With the launch of Confederation of Women Entrepreneurs (COWE), later this month, set up by a group of women who moved away from Association of Lady Entrepreneurs of Andhra Pradesh (ALEAP), Rupa Rani, the founder chairperson of the Karnataka chapter is excited.
“When I was making candles, I was not aware of the potential it had if marketed properly. Patience played a key role and slowly I became a member of Karnataka State Women’s Development Corporation Ltd and a member of Association of Women Entrepreneurs of Karnataka. I then started imparting training on candle making and started a unit in Whitefield. Later I started teaching housewives at a hobby centre on Commercial Street,” she says.
Having trained more than 2000 women, she slowly moved to counselling women on empowerment and became associated with the Federation of Karnataka Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FKCCI), where she is the vice chairperson of the women’s wing, today.
“Many women entrepreneurs are not aware of the numerous schemes that are available for their uplift. Through COWE, we want them to know of these schemes. We are closely associated with the National Small Industries Corporation Limited and Ministry of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises as well as other organisations through which we provide all the assistance required by women entrepreneurs,” she says.
She has been leaving no stone unturned to ensure that women with skills are elevated. She is planning to sign an MoU with FKCCI during the launch of COWE’s Karnataka chapter and utilise their schemes to help women. “We also have an MoU with Karnataka Small Scale Industries Association. We want to put all related associations under one roof so that women are exposed to a wide array of opportunities,” she says.
Rupa is also planning a tie-up with Central Food Technological Research Institute so that food products which are home-made can be scientifically tested. “We also help them in food licensing and other necessary regulations. We have tied-up with Federation of Indian Micro and Small & Medium Enterprises as well as few banks for funding,” she says.
Her plan does not just end at hand holding, but there is enough entrepreneurial counselling to understand the woman and her abilities. There is training in terms of marketing, branding, registration, VAT registrations, sales tax that are provided to the women. “COWE also takes two delegations for exposure visits to other countries, especially to attend trade fairs. Visvesvaraya Trade Promotion Centre funds the trip and they also have schemes which we can use. Women who are taken on these trips need to have an import export certificate,” she says.
Currently there are 15 members in Bangalore urban who are all mid-level entrepreneurs. “We have 150 rural members in Karnataka. But we are not going aggressive on memberships because we want to first launch it and then plan ahead,” she says.
COWE has about 500 members in Hyderabad. They have a chapter in Delhi and after the Bangalore launch, they will move to Chennai and Jaipur. “We are also looking at Kerala and Madhya Pradesh,” she says.
Rupa is now planning for international partners also. She is also looking at setting up incubator centres in all districts of the state. “These centres can train women on making sanitary napkins as well as binding of books, etc. Through government schemes, women can easily run these units,” she says.
To become a member
Ordinary member: Eligibility is for individuals, firms, partnership companies and corporations. The fee is `1,500 per annum plus `100 registration fee
Life Members: Eligibility is same as ordinary member. The fee is `10,000 plus `100 as registration fee.