NRLM or Ajeevika Mission is a flagship program of the Government of India aimed at promoting the economic empowerment of rural women through the Self Help Group (SHG) model. At the District level, the District Rural Development Agency (DRDA) is the nodal agency for handholding and promoting the SHGs. One of the modes of promoting SHG products are the fairs organized by DRDA by showcasing and selling their products. In one of the fairs held at District headquarters in November 2020, it was noticed by the Deputy Commissioner Una that the SHG products of most groups did not have good and attractive packaging.
Good packaging enhances the visual appeal of products for customers. Branding of products is an integral part of good packaging. A brand connotes a standard or quality of the product with which it is associated and it also creates a recall value for the customer for the business. The price that a product commands in the market is directly related to the value of the brand. These are marketing concepts which are relatively unknown to rural women who function as part of SHGs. SHGs in District Una make different products like pickle, dalia, honey, seviyan which are of good marketable quality but they do not have access to good packaging and branding. They work as separate economic units and they do not have access to the knowledge and expertise required for building brand value for their products. They keep selling low-value products undifferentiated from the other lot of products in the market. Consequently, they are not able to build a ‘business that builds/grows value’ around their economic activities.
“Sombhadra” project was conceptualized by District Administration, Una in December 2020 with an intention to overcome issues relating to standardization, marketing & branding deficiencies in SHG products by creating basic infrastructure and marketing/branding support for SHG products and raising their aspiration for matching the best quality products available in the market. The name Sombhadra was adopted as the River “Sombhadra” (locally known as Swan) is an important part of geography and culture of the District Una and it has an association with the District with good recall value in the mind of the customers. The name captures the imagination of the local customer instantly. Through Project Sombhadra following interventions have been done:
• Registration & licensing of Samarth Una (CLF) under FSS Act, 2006 for manufacture, processing and packaging of various SHG products: A Cluster Level Federation (CLF) created at district level namely Samarth Una is being used for coordinating all SHG product related activities under the Sombhadra project. A license under FSS Act, 2006 has been obtained by Samarth Una in September 2021 to manufacture, process and package the SHG products of district Una.
• Orientation workshops of the selected SHGs was organized to motivate them for use of better packaging and branding under Sombhadra. The advantages of using the brand packaging were explained to them so that they become active partners in the entire exercise.
• Adoption of a good brand name: Brand name Sombhadra was adopted due to its greater recall value. The name makes a connect with the people living in the valleys of Sombhadra river. It also imbibes the culture and geography of District Una, of which the river is an integral part.
• Standardized designing of packing/branding material for SHG products: Standardized attractive brand labels were designed through professional designers (which would not have been possible at the level of individual SHGs) and made available to SHGs. Initial funding for new product labels/package was made available through District Mineral Foundation (DMF) Fund by Deputy Commissioner, Una since there was no fund available with DRDA for use as seed money. Separate printer machines have been provided to blocks to ensure industry acceptable MRP/batch printing. The packaging material was sourced for all products through common platform of DRDA in order to reduce the cost of the material due to bulk purchase.
• The 20 best SHGs working in food processing sector have been selected for this initiative. The list of items covered under the brand has been fixed and the prices have been made uniform.
•Marketing of Sombhadra products through SHG stalls/ fairs and way side amenities centre at Boul and Ghewat Behad has been started. In addition to this, a sale point for Sombhadra products has been established at the Postal District Head Office Una. Separate weekly marts and District level Sombhadra fair are being organized to market the Sombhadra products. Better sales and feedback for these products at these stalls gave the expected positive feedback for the SHGs involved.
• The brand image is being cultivated through social media, print & electronic media coverage and through various fairs for SHG products. Gift hampers consisting of Sombhadra project to various dignitaries visiting the District has also been used as a way of promotion.
From conceptualization to execution the entire process took painstaking exercise of over 9 months before bringing the Sombhadra products into the market in September 2021.
Until now, Sombhadra products worth Rs. 7.45 lacs have been sold through various platforms. Due to the success of the project, the SHGs have now formed a CLF which has started sourcing the packaging material for all of them. The initiative has boosted the confidence of the SHGs involved in the project. The socio- economic status of SHGs is likely to significantly improve after the initiative, owning to increased demand and sales of the Sombhadra products. It is likely to give strength to the “Vocal For Local” movement and the idea of Honourable Prime Minister towards building an Atamnirbhar Bharat.
Link 1: https://fb.watch/chxsMzc8Wb/
Link 2: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=81bD_waKWf8