Fourteen women’s groups from all over Kerala have cleared the district-level selection process of 'Pennoruma Season 2' awards instituted by Malayala Manorama and Malabar Gold & Diamonds to recognize successful examples of women’s collectives and empowerment. The state-level winner, runner-up and second runner-up would be chosen from these 14 groups.
The winners from each district are engaged in diverse activities such as protecting forests, working among the coastal folk, education, feeding the hungry and travelling all over the state as part of their tasks. Incidentally, all these groups were active even when the COVID-19 pandemic was raging and most people were confined to their homes.
Thiruvananthapuram – Cheruresmi Centre, Valiyathura
Kollam – Aiswarya Vanitha Swayam Sahaya Sangham, Azheekkal, Karunagappally
Alappuzha – Suddhi Curry Powder Producers, Mavelikkara
Pathanamthitta – Asha’s Curry Powder & Oil Unit, Perunad
Kottayam – Visib Swasraya Sangham, Kodumbidi
Idukki – Vasanthasena Eco Development Committee, Thekkady
Ernakulam – Alif Flour Mill, Manjaly, North Paravoor
Thrissur – Kiranam Kudubashree, Perinjanam
Malappuram – Thennala Blooms
Palakkad – Oppam Vanitha Koottayma, Pirayiri
Kozhikode – Puthuppady grama panchayat Kudumbashree CDS
Wayanad – Ushuss Kudumbashree, Kenichira, Poothadi
Kannur – Safdar Hashmi Memorial Reading room & Library, Thayampoyil, Cherupazhassi
Kasaragod – Thushara Kudumbashree, Panamthodu, Ravaneeswaram
Alif’s success story
The winners from each district have their own success stories of women’s empowerment to share and here is the report from Ernakulam:
Manjaly in Ernakulam district is well-known for its biriyani and halwa. A women’s group based in the locality has won the Pennoruma selection for creating its own space with ‘Alif’ brand rice powder, ‘poorappodi’ and ‘avalodunda’. Nisa Badaruddeen, Naseema, Sathy, Shameera and Sajitha are the women leading this collective and they are pleased over having established a venture that has made them self-sufficient.
The initiative was launched by Nisa when she found it difficult to make both ends meet. “At that time, my husband had returned from the Gulf as his salary there was low. Back in Kerala, he took a loan and bought an auto-rickshaw. However, the income from it too was insufficient to meet the expenses on managing the house and the education of our two children,” says Nisa. To earn some money, she decided to start a flour mill on her own to prepare rice flour and sell it.
Nisa’s experience in working with a Kudumbashee unit and rearing buffaloes gave her confidence. “Along with it, I was determined and mentally prepared to work very hard,” she says.
Alif Flour Mill was started with a loan of Rs 5 lakh from Union Bank, Karumalloor and by selling Nisa’s wedding necklace. Initially, Nisa carried out all the work at the mill, but soon other women in the neighborhood joined her and the venture grew into a collective. Gradually, more products were introduced, including ‘avalosunda’ and ‘poorappodi.’ At present, Alif Rice Mill is a wholesale as well retail dealer of these food items.
During the early days, while Alif sold 1,000 ‘avolusundas’ a day, now the sales cross 3,500 a day. “There are days when we receive orders for even 10,000 avalosundas,” says Nisa. Meanwhile at least 20 kg of ‘avalos’ powder is also sold every week.
Naseema, another member of the group, explains why she loves to prepare the tasty ‘avolosunda’. “My children ask me why I still work even though I am no longer young. But, I tell them that I wish to work as long as I am in good health. Moreover, the money I earn can be spent to buy many things for my grandchildren,” she says.
“Similarly, my children too have taken some loans and I could be of some help to them,” she adds.
Each member of the collective has similar stories to tell.
“When there are heavy orders, we work even on Sundays. The activities not only provide us with an income and make us happy but also gives a feeling of supporting each member of the group,” says Sathy.
In the future, Nisa and her group plan to increase sales by improving quality and introduce new food products such as ‘achappam’ and ‘kuzhalappam.’