Donning an Entrepreneur's Hat
At 36, Renuka Dalavayi could not calculate her earnings. She had to depend on her two children for any basic arithmetic.
Renuka stands as an instance of resilience among the members of her community in Malakadevarahatti village of Bijapur district in Karnataka.
First, she became her family’s bread-earner as daily wager after her husband ‘abandoned’ her and their two children. She ensured that both the children received their education.
Second, when the pandemic in its wake rendered her unemployed, she turned to self-employment to keep the home fires burning.
Though her children were her ‘walking-talking calculators’, looking at them, Renuka wondered if her parents too could have given her a schooling like them. This thought which circled back to her childhood days, turned out to be the most potent enabler for her to fit into the mould of the TCS’ Adult Literacy Program. This made the task of the literacy committee of an NGO, Development Focus, smooth to enroll her for program.
She remained a learner with the program till its conclusion in her village. The joy of learning of her mother tongue as well as numbers was so much that she motivated other unlettered adults from her community to join this CSR initiative which was brought to their doorstep by TCS.
At the behest of the situation unleashed by Covid-19, forcibly transitioning from a daily wager, she started a saree shop in her house. She says, one of the factors due to which she was able to make this venture break-even on fast track was: “Now I know numbers, I know how to calculate and I am able to fix the right kind of price. I make the prices affordable for my customers without making any compromise on my profit”. The way she explains her arithmetic of arriving at a price for a saree, it is evident that in her own way she practices the method of cross-subsidy.
This was possible as, ALP harnesses the potential of the Computer Based Functional Literacy Solution (CBFL), a software developed in-house. A learner is taught to read through a combination of graphics, sound patterns, language structure. It works on the premise that the adults know the sounds of words and the things that they denote, and they need to connect spoken words to written graphics.
The knowledge of numbers and being able to calculate profit and loss on her own, has prompted Renuka to consider business expansion: A grocery shop in her village. According to her, this will serve people from her community to negotiate many hardships to go to towns for buying basic necessities.
In fact, Renuka Dalavayi, now described as a 'successful entrepreneur' by the elders in her community. She says, “Its my empowerment through education by ALP which carried me from the fields to become a shop owner. It’s never too late to get educated.
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