Planet Kerala, Research Consultants email@example.com
The whole idea of TechnoWorld started when the Community Development Society of Malappuram Municipality (an apex body of women's self-help groups) invited applications from members of various women's neighbourhood self-help groups (NHGs) to open a computer centre under an enterprise scheme of Kudumbashree: Kerala State's agency for poverty alleviation. The ten members of TechnoWorld, who came from seven NHGs in the administrative area of Malappuram town, joined together to open the centre.
All of them were new to computers and received twenty days training in computer operations from Aptech Computers. In addition to that they were given training in their own centre for a further two months.
The group mobilised a loan of US$3,000 from the bank and contributed another US$30 each. With this they purchased five computers (most with monochrome monitors to save money). They hired one room in the town's shopping complex and officially launched the enterprise on 27th March, 2000. Most of their work involves data entry and desktop publishing (DTP) for various government departments, mainly provided through the assistance of Kudumbashree. Their initial bank loan has been paid back and they have withstood the challenges of the last five years.
The enterprise carries out data entry and DTP for a variety of government departments including the Malappuram Municipality (creating a list of below-poverty-line families), the Department of Local Self-Government (creating a list of eligible voters), the Registration Department (digitisation of Land Deed documents), the Civil Supplies Department (recording a databased of Ration Card holders), the Revenue Department (typing in land survey details), the Backward Community Development Corporation (entering details of loans) and the Housing Board (also typing in details of loans).
The initial ten members have now been reduced to seven, including the group leader and the secretary. The three who left did so due to illness, to moving away, and to being unable to meet the loan repayments. One other is on leave and it is uncertain whether she will return, having moved house after marriage. One is on maternity leave. Three of the seven are graduates.
There are six other full time employees who have been taken on since the start of the enterprise, one of whom is a man. They are employed as data entry operators and do the work on a piece-rate basis. They receive about US$0.01 for entering the profile of one family. The usual work hours are from 9.30am to 5.30pm, sometimes extended to 6.30pm if deadlines demand it. These employees do not have any role in the administrative matters of the enterprise.
The enterprise uses one landline phone, one mobile (that of the group leader), ten PCs (paid for from the profits of the enterprise) and one Internet connection. Software includes SQL Server, Windows 2000, VisualBasic, Crystal Report, MS Office and PageMaker.
Discounting those on leave, there are five core women partners and six other staff. In 2004 the total sales volume was US$9,500. This was achieved through data entry contracts with four government departments and minor data entry jobs for the public. It was not possible to give an overall figure for profit or loss in 2004 because work overlaps between years and payments from government departments are intermittent. However the group had more work than in previous years and so a better income.
There has been no change in the number of full-time staff since 2002, though five part time staff were appointed in 2002, for specific work. There has been little change in sales volume since 2002. Monthly income and expenditure are much the same: around US$800. No subsidy is received but the women partners sometimes advance their own money to meet rent and bills.
1. The unity of the group members, expressed through equal and just sharing of the work, everyone's determination to complete the work on time, listening to every partner's opinion before taking a decision, being personally supportive to each other and being together in facing a challenge, is considered an important factor in their success.
2. "We came for a job; then began to get some money. We had to pay back the loan at any cost. Then we wanted to increase our earnings and decided to grow to more heights." This inner drive, they say, is another reason for their success.
3. The facilitation from the government's Kudumbashree agency in terms of getting work orders and receiving training inspire and motivate them to sustain their performance and grow more. Family support is also very motivating.
1. All the group members maintain that one of the most important benefits is a tremendous growth in their confidence, and a decrease in their fearfulness in facing life. Even computers were anxiety-inducing before joining the venture. These have now become homely gadgets which sustain life! They have become confident to interact with people, even at the level of State Government officials, and to free themselves from the clutches of the domestic world.
2. The members earn around US$65 per month. (They have decided that this should be the maximum monthly earnings and that the rest should go to the corporate fund. This monthly income is not always achieved – it depends on the level of work available). This income has made a big difference to their lives. For example one has been able to facilitate her sister's marriage, another to pay for the medical treatment of her parents, another to manage the day to day affairs of her house and so on.
3. The partners have developed their own lives, where they support their husbands' earnings, start their own savings and manage their personal life with their own hard-earned money.
3. There is no toilet facility in the complex where their office is situated which causes a lot of inconvenience in their day today routine. The municipal government has still not fulfilled its promise to provide this. They also have to cope with high temperatures in the room where they work.
Author Data Sources/Role: Interviews, Observation and Documents; No Direct Role
Region: South Asia Start Date: 2000 Submission Date: April 2005
The "Women's ICT-Based Enterprise for Development" project is coordinated by the University of Manchester's Institute for Development Policy and Management. The project is funded by the UK Department for International Development's Knowledge and Research programme.
http://www.womenictenterprise.org/malappuram.htm September 2005