Empowering Uttarakhand: Kirti Kumar’s Journey of Women Entrepreneurship

Empowering Uttarakhand: Kirti Kumar’S Journey Of Women Entrepreneurship

Nestled amidst the breathtaking vistas of India’s Uttarakhand, where most would simply indulge in picturesque photo ops, relish the mountain air, and savor local delicacies, Kirti Kumar stands apart. At 32, this dynamic food scientist has embarked on a mission far beyond personal pleasure—to uplift local businesses and empower women entrepreneurs across the mountainous terrains of the state.

Kirti’s vision revolves around nurturing and encouraging local tribal women to establish their enterprises, leveraging indigenous resources for sustainable growth. Collaborating with regional self-help groups (SHGs), she imparts education and impetus, transforming women into formidable food entrepreneurs.

Thanks to Kirti Kumar’s guidance and the concerted efforts of her team, over 1000 women have blossomed into independent business owners. They now market an array of farm-fresh, organic products, ranging from delectable jams and wholesome flour to an assortment of edible wonders sourced from native fruits, crops, vegetables, and flowers.

What began as a noble initiative has evolved into a thriving economic ecosystem. The block-level processing units, established under Kirti’s mentorship and in collaboration with SHGs, now boast an impressive turnover of more than Rs 1 crore—a testament to the impact of grassroots empowerment.

Driven by a passion for holistic well-being, these enterprising women, supported by ten SHGs, manufacture and distribute essential household items tailored for specific nutritional needs. From iron-enriched “laddoos” to nutritious ragi “barfi,” their offerings cater to malnourished school children, adolescent girls, and expectant mothers, earning accolades far and wide.

Their success is not confined to local acclaim. Products like the coveted ragi barfi have garnered such acclaim that the state government has sought a prestigious Geographical Indications (GI) tag for them. These sought-after treats are now available nationwide at affordable prices through various outlets.

In recognition of her outstanding contributions to women’s empowerment in Uttarakhand, Kirti Kumar recently received honors from the state government. Reflecting on her journey, she remarked, “It took me over three years to study and understand the socio-economic issues of Uttarakhand hills, especially Tehri. I decided to do something with my knowledge and experience. In Uttarakhand, over 80 per cent of farming is done by women, but they don’t get the benefits.”

Originally from Rajasthan’s Bharatpur and armed with an M. Tech degree, Kirti now imparts her knowledge at the Veer Chandra Singh Garhwali Uttarakhand University of Horticulture and Forestry in Tehri Garhwal. Her commitment to fostering sustainable development and gender equity continues to inspire, paving the way for a brighter, more inclusive future in the heart of India’s majestic mountains.

Kirti Kumar’s journey epitomizes the transformative impact of individual dedication and collective empowerment—a beacon of hope and progress for communities striving for economic independence and social recognition. Through her tireless efforts, she not only uplifts lives but also reshapes the narrative of empowerment in the pristine landscapes of Uttarakhand.

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