The Karnataka government has recently sanctioned an interest free soft loan of Rs 10 lakh to Stree Shakti Federations across the state with which rural women working under the groups can buy vans and set up mobile kitchens.
The loan will cater to the federations' requirements functioning in Karnataka under the aegis of the Karnataka State Women's Development Corporation (KSWDC).
The move may be one of the many by the incumbent Congress government in the state to drum up support for itself in the run-up to the Assembly elections that take place next year.
Buy vans, set up kitchens
The state government has announced that the Rs 10 lakh loan to each federation can be repaid over 24 months. However, that is not the only loan sanctioned for these rural women.
KSWDC Chairperson Bharati Shankar told International Business Times, India: "The state government in span of few years has planned to release a loan of Rs 2 lakh to few groups under the 30 Stree Shakti Federations. Through this the women members of each Stree Shakti group can buy mobile vans which will be soon launched under the Saviruchi Sanchari Canteen banner across Karnataka."
The government also made the Saviruchi canteen a part of 2017-18 budget. The mobile vans will be run by the District Stree Shakthi Federation in all the districts of Karnataka.
Referring to the federation's collaborative effort with food regulatory bodies — Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) and Central Food Technological Research Institute (CFTRI) — Shankar said: "A lot of research and efforts, combined with constant discussion from the vehicle providers and federation groups, have gone into scientifically designing the mobile canteens."
The KSWDC chief also said: "We have reached out to the district commissioners' offices of all districts and requested them to order food from these women so that their business grows and helps us empower them. They are equipped to take catering orders as well."
The women members of the federations and the groups are also trained in different sectors so as to handle any situation. Shankar told to IBTimes India: " In case the vehicle has a problem, the women are equipped to make small repairs as well."
According to an official statement, there are around 1.8 lakh Stree Shakti groups in Karnataka, considering which the federation is also planning to develop a smartphone app. This is expected to be an aid to buyers and an asset to the groups and federations in their business.