New Delhi: Vedanta Jharsuguda, India’s largest producer of aluminium and value-added products, has bagged ‘Runner Up’ position at the prestigious BRICS India Solutions for Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) Awards 2021. The company won the coveted award in SDG 5: Gender Equality category for its flagship community development project in women empowerment – Subhalaxmi Co-operative, a 4100+ member strong all-women co-op society operating in Jharsuguda, Odisha. This is a global and international achievement among the BRICS countries (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) to recognize businesses for driving grassroots realization of UN SDGs.
Vedanta conceived the project in 2008, during the inception phase of its Aluminium Smelter at Jharsuguda, in response to the high demand for livelihood opportunities in nearby villages. Started with only 10 women and their initial contribution of INR 1000, Subhalaxmi Co-op has grown in strength over a decade to become one of India’s largest rural women’s cooperatives with presence in 72 villages of Jharsuguda. At its core, Subhalaxmi Co-op has four basic components – Capacity Building and Livelihood Promotion, Financial Services (savings & credit facilities), Social Development, and Collaboration & Partnership.
Mr. Rahul Sharma, CEO – Aluminium Business, Vedanta Ltd., said, “The principles of sustainable & responsible development have guided our action at and beyond operations. It has been our greatest honour to be the partner in progress of these superwomen from Jharsuguda. Hailing from humble backgrounds, they have challenged and overcome various stereotypes to establish themselves as trailblazers. We dedicate the prestigious BRICS Award to all the members of Subhalaxmi Co-operative and their determination to create a name for themselves in the society. We will continue to enable them to evolve into a movement of great transformation that will stand as a beacon of empowerment for women all over the world.”
To ensure alternate means of livelihood for the women of the region, Subhalaxmi Co-op provides need based financial services in terms of savings, credit and insurance; promotes micro enterprises through Business Development Services (BDS); links potential entrepreneurs and enterprises with suitable market opportunities; trains & educates the members, elected representatives and managing committee to ensure effective functioning of the society; and works for the sustainable development of the members.
Expressing her delight, Mrs. Pushpanjali Seth, former president of Subhalaxmi Co-operative, adds, “It is a matter of immense pride and fulfilment for us to see our Subhalaxmi Co-operative society get such international acclaim. Each one of our women members is a shining example of true empowerment that happens when one’s will to progress is enabled through skill development, financial literacy, financial inclusion and welfare schemes. Vedanta’s dream has and will continue to evolve, as we march on to include even more women into this society and enable them to pursue their aspirations.”
Highlights of Subhalaxmi Co-operative’s journey so far:
· 4100+ women members associated with ~340 Self-Help Groups (SHG), hailing form 72 villages of Odisha
· Fund base of over INR 3.5 crores, including member savings and share capital, welfare fund, and profits earned by the co-op
· Supporting 1360+ micro entrepreneurs engaged in agriculture and allied sectors, service trades, petty business shop and vending, animal husbandry, etc., whose income levels have increased by 50%.
· Till date, the co-op has done business of over INR 30 crores through microfinance services alone.
· A unique social welfare fund ‘Subhalaxmi Mahila Kalyan Panthi’ has been created to provide financial support to expecting mothers, scholarships to meritorious students of matriculation, support in case of demise of spouse, etc.
· Nearly 94.7% of Jharsuguda’s population has been directly or indirectly positively impacted by Subhalaxmi Co-op.
· Owned and governed by a Board of Directors, who are democratically elected members for a tenure.
· Partnership with Government Line Departments, Research and Extension Institutions for various developmental initiatives.
Vedanta Aluminium Business, a division of Vedanta Limited, is India’s largest manufacturer of aluminium, producing half of India’s aluminium at 1.96 million tonnes per annum (MTPA) in FY21. It is a leader in value-added aluminium products that find critical applications in core industries. With its world-class Aluminium Smelters, Alumina Refinery and Power Plants in India, the company fulfils its mission of spurring emerging applications of aluminium as the ‘Metal of the Future’ for a greener tomorrow.