In Dakshin Bastar Dantewada, the population is skewed towards women. The district has a male-female ratio of 1000:1023. Traditionally, women have contributed more than men in liveable income of the family. According to 2011 SECC data, percentage of households with monthly income of highest household member < Rs 5000 is 92.82%. Thus, Project Shakti was visualized and to enhance income of women, with the belief that the most effective tool of development is the empowerment of women.
With the aim to promote women led micro – entrepreneurship, Project Shakti works as a multi-stakeholder, multi-departmental umbrella initiative. Women self-help groups, registered under various schemes of the Government such as ICDS, NRLM., are treated at par and are linked to diversified options of income supplementation.
Debt - free targeted assistance to the SHGs is provided and Corporate Social Responsibility Funds and District Mineral Funds are leveraged wherever necessary.
Skill training is given to the women and then further assistance is provided to them to invest in various income generating activities such as:
- Purchasing e – rickshaws;
- Construction of sheds and rearing of kadaknath chickens;
- Creation of bore wells and drip irrigation systems;
- Manufacturing of schoolchildren’s uniforms for use in the district;
- Manufacturing of ready to eat nutritional supplements for anganwadis;
- Bee keeping for production of honey;
- Catering and running of public canteens; and
- Running of Mini Rice Mills etc.
By linking 950 SHGs and more than 10,000 women/families to income generating activities, Project Shakti has effectively helped counter the LWE propaganda of alienation and exploitation existing even deep within the rural, forested landscape. Project Shakti has been successful in significantly increasing household incomes. The Danteshwari e – rickshaw service, a model initiative emerging from the strengthen SHGs, facilitated plugging of a public transport service gap.