Dropati is a housewife living in the rural village of Khursipar in Madhya Pradesh in central India. When Dropati first married, the management of the family’s two-acres of land was left entirely to her husband. But over the last year, Dropati has taken on a more active role, starting two new businesses, building a new home and finding her own voice.

Dropati’s life began to change when she joined a women’s self-help group run by Good Shepherd. One of the first group activities that Dropati took part in was training in fish farming and small business management.

Dropati and her husband feed the fish at the family pond

Dropati and her husband feed the fish at the family pond

There is a large pond on Dropati’s land that had always been used to water crops and vegetables and had occasionally yielded a fish that Dropati would cook for dinner. Dropati quickly learnt that her pond could support over 100 kg of fish stock. Good Shepherd helped her access 10kg of high quality fertilised fish eggs of several species and fish feed.

The local fishery officer advised Dropati on when and how to look after her fish. In her first season, Dropati harvested 50 kg of fish and earnt $80 Euros. Next year, she expects to double her fish production and income.

Using some of her profit from the fish farm, Dropati bought additional seed to cultivate vegetables for sale at the local market. She now earns between $9 and $11 Euros on market day each week.

“To construct a new house was a dream for my entire family,” says Dropati.

A higher income is not the only benefit of Dropati’s newfound entrepreneurial spirit.

“Day by day, I realize that I have been developing confidence,” she continues. “My friends too tell me that I have improved my communication skills.”

Because of her increased income, Dropati was successful in applying for government support to build a new home.

The weekly vegetable stall brings in €10 Euro per week.

Good Shepherd is supporting 220 women from Tribal and Dalit communities to find economic independence and social empowerment through human rights education, peer support, counselling and, perhaps most crucially, assistance to access financial and support services so that they can start new businesses.

The Sisters of the Good Shepherd who support the project have observed the changes first hand. Tribal and Dalit women are beginning to attend village meetings and voice their opinions. Men are also starting to invest time and resources in the economic activities started by the women from the Good Shepherd groups.

“My husband encourages me and involves in the decision-making process in the family and supports me in the income generation endeavours like fish farming and vegetable vending,” says Dropati.

With the support of her friends and her husband, Dropati is only growing more ambitious. Having already established a successful fishery and a successful vegetable business, Dropati now has her sights firmly set on a third business: a goat-rearing enterprise.

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