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Entrepreneurship workshop for indigenous women gets under way

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Workshop focuses on developing strategies for market integration, enhancing business ops through tech adoption, creating actionable plans to overcome value chain challenges

By Our Reporter

SHILLONG, July 8: The National Commission for Women (NCW) and Meghalaya Biodiversity Board on Monday launched a two-day regional workshop on Non-Timber Forest Produce (NTFP) in Shillong with an aim to foster sustainable economic development and promote non-timber forest products (NTFP)-based entrepreneurship among indigenous women in the region.
During the inaugural programme, NCW Chairperson Rekha Sharma emphasised the importance of economic independence for women’s growth in the region. She highlighted the need to increase control and income for indigenous women from the collection, processing and marketing of NTFP.
Sharma advocated for organising women cooperatives, encouraging women to step forward, and improving facilities such as water and shelter in collection areas to ensure safety.
She also stressed the importance of engaging at least 50% of women in managerial roles, particularly within the forest department, to ensure women are integral to managing their jobs.
Sharma then spoke about ways for women to easily access funding to start their businesses and the benefits of easy installments. “This new initiative by the NCW aims to build the capacity of tribal women and those residing in forest areas, with a particular focus on northeastern women, given the significant tribal population in this region,” she said.
She mentioned that many resource persons would teach the women how to start businesses centered around these products, whether herbal-related or eco-tourism.
Principal Chief Conservator of Forests (PCCF) and Head of Forest Force (HOFF), RS Gill, highlighted the potential for identifying more forest products for national and international markets and the workshop’s role in skill development.
On the other hand, Member Secretary of NCW, Meenakshi Negi, underscored the significance of promoting entrepreneurship among indigenous women in the Northeastern region based on NTFP. She added that with mentorship and capacity-building initiatives undertaken by the NCW, women can prosper in their respective fields.
Technical sessions featured insights from experts such as Alka Bhargava, Dimpy Bora, and Pravin Bakshi, who discussed market dynamics and technology adoption in NTFP products.
The workshop is focused on developing strategies for market integration, enhancing business operations through technology adoption, and creating actionable plans to overcome value chain challenges. Participants engaged in discussions facilitated by experts and stakeholders from sectors including State Women Commissions, Forest, AYUSH departments, and subject matter experts.
Held at the State Convention Centre here, the first day of the programme drew more than 250 participants, including self-help groups, entrepreneurs, traditional healers, and NGOs primarily from East Khasi Hills, Jaintia Hills, and Ri-Bhoi districts.
Day two of the programme will include sessions on market dynamics, technology adoption, value chain challenges, and income augmentation.

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