About Udyogini

Udyogini - means woman entrepreneur. Udyogini, the organization, is registered as a Society under the Indian Societies Registration Act, 1860. It is also registered under the Foreign Contribution Registration Act and enjoys income tax exemption under 80G and 12A of the Income Tax Act. It works with poor, mainly illiterate, women to improve their skills as producers and their knowledge of the markets they operate in, so as to ensure long-term returns. We have field programs in Rajasthan, MP, Jharkhand, Uttarakhand, UP, Bihar, and Orissa but provide a variety of enterprise services in many other states as well including the Northeast.

In rural India women provide for their families' basic needs by contributing to farm labour and by subsistence level income generation. These income generating activities are as varied as running a rice dehusking unit; operating an oil press; collecting, selling and processing minor forest produce; embroidering on textiles and leather; and, making baskets from local varieties of grass. In a market-ascendant world, Udyogini is involved in facilitating the development of agriculture, non-timber forest produce, artisan and service retail microenterprises where women are not only producers but also managers and entrepreneurs involved in a variety of value-added tasks. Udyogini facilitates the learning of relevant management and technical skills that are required for making such microenterprises profitable and increase incomes of women producers- skills needed not only to manage their production but also to market their products in a better way and ensure better returns.

Udyogini came into existence in 1992, entered the microenterprise domain through the 'Women's Enterprise Management Training Outreach Program' (WEMTOP), which was initiated and funded by the World Bank Institute. Through this support Udyogini developed the concept of and manual for Grassroots Management Training (GMT), which is now a core activity in Udyogini's work in India and in many NGO and government programs around the world such as in Peru, other Andean and African countries and Romania. Ela Bhatt, the founder of the Self-Employed Women's Association (SEWA) is a founding member of Udyogini and was its first Chairperson.

Udyogini emerged as a service provider for micro enterprise management services, principally training for poor, asset less and mainly illiterate women to improve their skills as producers and their knowledge of the markets they operate in, so as to ensure long-term returns in three backward states of India, namely, Rajasthan, Bihar and Odisha. As a specialized agency, on this date, and when there is recognition of the need to go 'beyond credit' to enable women to invest in productive activities, Udyogini is placed at the very center of developing cutting-edge knowledge and practice for microenterprises for the poor, especially women.

Back in the early 1990s, when Udyogini was established, the focus on microenterprise management training was innovative at a time when even microcredit was a new idea. Udyogini took an early lead in the domain by motivating smaller NGOs towards microenterprise in their portfolio of programs for poverty alleviation for women. During this period, it built perspectives, curriculum, methodology and materials for micro enterprise management amongst 30 non-profit organizations (NGOs) to help more than 1,00,000/- poor women producers. It also enabled NGOs, through a program of sustained support comprising training for enterprise awareness, management and counseling, to move into developing microenterprise programs and having staff with orientation to microenterprise. The NGOs that have grown and now have established microenterprise programs such as URMUL, SURE and LUPIN in Rajasthan; NIPDIT and Samanwita in Orissa and ADITHI in Bihar are distinguished alumni of Udyogini's enterprise motivation and management training.

Till 1996, the mandate of Udyogini was to provide management training to NGO staff in Enterprise management, who then trained women producers in the grassroots. In 1996, Udyogini expanded its repertoire of enterprise services for women to include marketing and marketing linkages, credit linkages and initiatives towards federation building. In 2002, Udyogini undertook a strategic and business plan to learn from its past, and examine the market for its services and niche opportunities and its capacity potential to plan for the future. The need for strategic planning came from the findings of the Mid-Term Review (Commissioned by ICCO), Udyogini's own experience of working in the partnership and support mode and changes in the macro and funding environment.

During the WEMTOP phase, Udyogini worked with 21 Voluntary Organizations (NGOs) in three states of Orissa, Bihar, and Rajasthan. The outcome was not only a total of 130 trainers, 1,077 trained producer women and NGOs who established enterprise programs, but, more importantly, an innovative grassroots enterprise management curriculum and a menu of training materials to make semi-literate and illiterate women understand basic aspects of managing businesses. Women learnt, among other things, how to cost and price their products, how to plan their production, undertake a market survey and do marketing. The curriculum and materials have been used many times over since WEMTOP and has helped us train over 3500 enterprise promoting staff from NGOs and government with a combined GMT-eligible base of at least 3,50,000 women.

It was exciting that Udyogini was able to train so many women and NGOs that worked with women and continues to do so. But to remain at the cutting-edge in building women's capacity for enterprise, Udyogini had to help them maneuver in emerging and complex market conditions. This meant piloting and scaling a range of business services directly at the grassroots to from mobilization to market. Hence, in 2002, for its grassroots initiatives, Udyogini selected sectors of the economy in which women were concentrated in large numbers and in which they were mainly producers or wage laborers. It selected locations that were remote and, hence, underserved but still offered a resource base - either skills or natural resources - that could be harnessed for enterprise development. Udyogini undertakes microenterprise initiatives in such locations covering a range of business development services (BDS).

Most significantly, in 2010, it has taken up the challenge of microenterprise development for older sex workers who want to move out of the profession and want to ensure that their young daughters develop employable skills so that they are not vulnerable to sex work. By early 2010, Udyogini had a presence in 7 states of North, Central and Eastern India (Rajasthan, MP, Jharkhand, Uttarakhand, UP, Bihar, and Orissa and provide a variety of enterprise services in many other states as well including the North East) working on aggregating and/or value-addition to commodities as diverse as lac, mahua, honey, bamboo, silk, other medicinal plants, maize, mustard, vegetables, and pulses and services like child-care centers - demonstrating considerable scale and breadth of experience and impact.

Udyogini's vision and perspective on microenterprises for women has always been to empower women to understand and participate in critical enterprise processes. As the market gains prominence, the need for women to become knowledgeable, confident and lead enterprises just as they have led microcredit initiatives becomes critical.

Udyogini is registered as a Society under the Indian Societies Registration Act, 1860. It is also registered under the Foreign Contribution Registration Act and enjoys income tax exemption under 80G and 12A of the Income Tax Act.

Udyogini's innovative efforts to establish theory and practice for women's microenterprise knowledge, promotion and service provision for outreach are in this site. We hope you enjoy browsing through it.