Trading in traditional routines: The Bamboo experience

Trading in traditional routines: The Bamboo experience

(K. Nagalaxmi, Sri Sai SHG, Medara Bazar, Kavali, Nellore Dt.)

K. Nagalaxmi, 42 years of Medara Bazar, Kavali conducts her business in bamboo. She is an active member and leader of Sri Sai Podupu Laxmi Group (SHG) and hers is a story about managing a traditional business activity in handcrafted artifacts duly supported by MEPMA in the recent past (2015-16). Promotion of inherited and sustainable domestic economic activities by the agency is visibly reflected in the selection of customary practices undertaken by women group members. Added, the products are eco-friendly and time-tested devices in the hands of daily wagers of society. Nagalaxmi makes bamboo items like ladders, baskets, fans, paddle (winnowing) plates etc. And, most of these items are used by daily wagers and for domestic routines on daily basis. Needless to state, all these products are not polluting in nature and free from gathering rust over extended usage. Nagalaxmi joined the business after her marriage with Kesavulu. She was unfortunate and her husband died 15 years ago. Since them Nagalaxmi took a resolve and decided to continue the family business.

Struggling to make both ends meet, she started working to the best of her ability though investment on raw material for her activity was often less than what was needed. When the local municipal counselor enlightened her on the importance and benefits of SHGs promoted by MEPMA in urban areas of the state, Nagalaxmi was convinced and joined the local SHG, Sri Sai group in 2008. Soon after joining she learnt the knack of conducting both social and business relations. Otherwise reserved and introvert, Nagalaxmi rose to the occasion and utilized the SHG opportunity. Her share in the successive loans approved for her group to the tune of around 1.2 lakh rupees constituted a great relief for her. Buoyed by the new credit experience and having tasted the low interest flexible credit, she like other members in the group, was very religious in repayment of the contracted loan amounts. Her commitment and frank nature catapulted her to the leadership pedestal very soon. She emerged as a rigid and strong leader as far as loan repayment schedules was concerned, and as a humane individual at personal level. For these qualities she is liked by many today.

Nagalaxmi soon started knocking at the doors of government agencies seeking more loans for business. She was in receipt of Stree Nidhi loan of one lakh rupees in addition to the SHG loan. The total amount was invested in bamboo business. She procures raw material from the Nallamala forest areas of Nandyal in Kurnool district and Giddalur in Parkasam district. She places orders for around 200 bamboo sticks today and spends an amount of rupees 30000 on raw material in a calendar month. Put together she sells around 125 pieces of bamboo items (all varieties) and pockets a profit of around rupees 15000 in a given month. Having been gifted a small house by her deceased husband; she feels that the amount she earns on the trade is sufficient to meet all the routine demands of the family. All her children, two boys and one girl are highly educated (all engineering graduates). She is thankful to her group identity and says that the enhanced credibility as a member of local SHG made many things possible for her in the recent life including the immediate sanction of education loan for her children. With two of her sons working after completion of their education,

she is satisfied that MEPMA has provided the main sustenance for her family in the last few years. With visible glee on visage, Nagalaxmi says: awareness about worldly happenings and tremendous improvement in personal communication skills are the results of my being associated with SHG. She proudly announces that I am a leader now. Thanks to Chandrababu whose government has been the major prop of support for women like me in the last couple of years.