In April 2014, Mann Deshi set up three Chambers of Commerce in Mhaswad, Satara, and Pune. Their mission is to create a supportive environment for women’s entrepreneurship and to facilitate an ever-expanding network of rural businesswomen who can share knowledge and provide resources.
The Chambers of Commerce (COC) welcomes all women, irrespective of education or background, who wish to start a business or expand their existing businesses. Upon enrollment, all members are required to participate in a three-month introductory course that includes Entrepreneurship Development, Financial Planning, Introduction to Administration, Marketing, Legal Counseling, and Business Registration and two exposure visits.
The COC also runs a toll free number that provides instant advice and solutions on pressing business problems. This free service allows all women, whether they own a phone or not, to call in with their questions.
While there are field officers in place to mobilise women, most of our trainings are conducted by 49 mentors. The mentors are successful entrepreneurs who have been through previous Mann Deshi Business School programmes. The mentorship element of the COC keeps more successful entrepreneurs involved and inspires them to give back to the community.
Meet a Mentor: Priti Dahekar
Priti Anilrao Dahekar lives in Whagjai Nagar, Pune. After she got married, she started working at a shop that made fetas and pugadis (local turbans). She made barely Rs. 2500 a month. She and her husband did not have a sufficient income to save and take care of their family. Subsequently, they decided to set up their own turban business.
After setting up her business, she became acquainted with the Mann Deshi Bank. She took a small loan to buy the necessary raw materials and set up the business. Simultaneously, she enrolled in the business development and financial literacy course. With these improvements and gained skills, her business began thriving. She now makes Rs 25,000 a month and has repaid several loans from the Bank. In fact, she has become so successful that she employs fifteen women. Priti has become an inspiration to her community.
- The COCs have run 432 programmes and reached 15, 682 women.
- 7,057 women have called the toll-free number
- 6,273 women received training on best practices for Accounting
- 10,193 women are being mentored by Master Trainers (B-School alumnae)
- 30% of women saw 35% increase in annual profit ~Rs.8000
- 20% of women registered and began their own businesses
- 52% saw an increase in their assets
- 35% expanded their business through new weekly/regional markets
- 2,200 new jobs have been created by COC members who expanded their businesses