Recognising women who managed to continue their entrepreneurial efforts through the pandemic, the Working Women’s Forum India honoured nine women from Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka on the occasion of the 89th birth anniversary of its founder Jaya Arunachalam.
The recipients of the best poor women entrepreneur awards were all recognised as “COVID-19 warriors and heroines”. “All the award-winners are members of the Indian Cooperative Network for Women (ICNW), stood strong and fought their way through the pandemic that resulted in the loss of livelihood and income for many,” said Nandini Azad, president, Working Women’s Forum and ICNW.
Dr. Azad said the criteria to select the award-winners involved both quantitative and qualitative aspects. “The award-winners were among nearly 1,500 women who, we realised, have never defaulted in their loan repayments and have been pillars of the cooperative network. They have made positive social transformations and worked with us” she said.
Lakshmi Narayanaswamy from Chennai, one of the award-winners, had to support five children after her husband died nearly 37 years ago. She had to borrow on a high interest rate. “However, once I was introduced to the ICNW, I was able to sustain my idly business and now, have even expanded into a cutpiece and sari business, thanks to the subsequent loans I took,” she said.
Nageshwari Sathya from Karnataka said that she approached the ICNW after her husband, who was a painter, lost an arm and a leg.
“I started a sari business, and was able to educate my three children,” she said.
Chandra Mani and Chandira Isakivel from Chennai, Ponnesan Subramani from Thanjavur district, Maruthayee Sekar from Dindigul, Rajalakshmi Krishnamurthi from Karnataka and Vemana Manga and Mutta Kasi Annapurna from Andhra Pradesh were the other winners.
The nine women who were honoured were given trophies and cash prizes.