Women Self Help Groups to run Shimla’s book cafes
The Chaura-Maidan book café would be the first to be launched by the urban development minister Suresh Bhardwaj on Saturday
After jail inmates, women linked to Self-Help Groups (SHGs) will run the newly built book cafes in the state capital Shimla.
The government had decided to hand over the management of the two book cafes at Chaura Maidan and Chhota Shimla to the SHG members under Deendayal Antyoday Yojana--National Urban Livelihood Mission (DAY-NULM).
The Chaura-Maidan book café would be the first to be launched by the urban development minister Suresh Bhardwaj on Saturday.
“Book cafes at Chaura Maidan and Chota Shimla, built under Smart City Mission, were inaugurated recently. We examined different models to run these book cafes. Now, we have decided that women linked with self-help groups registered under the DAY-NULM scheme will run these cafes,” he said.
“We had promised to provide a market space to women SHGs in urban areas. So, this will be a unique concept. Besides, showcasing and selling their products, women will manage the government-owned book cafes,” he said.
Shimla has more than 200 self-help groups.
Shimla’s MC’s NULM division will coordinate with the SHGs and will ensure transparency in the business,” said the minister.
Bhardwaj added that Prime Minister Narendra Modi has always emphasized Deendayal Antyoday Yojana -NULM to strengthen women. “Life of urban poor is difficult as they do not even have the agricultural land or have limited livelihood opportunities. This scheme has been instrumental in transforming the lives of many,” said Bhardwaj.
The minister said that whenever he visited fairs or exhibitions, SHGs raised the issue of marketing. “We are working on packaging and branding but providing a marketplace was a major issue. We have ‘book cafes’ located in prime locations. These will provide a peaceful environment for the bibliophiles and students beside a marketing platform for SHG women,” said the minister.
“Idea behind this concept was to ensure that this property is used for readers’ purposes besides providing a platform for SHGs, instead of commercializing the space,” he added.
The minister, who also holds the portfolio of the cooperation department, said that he was also contemplating a cooperative model for these SHGs. “A lot of work has been done in this sector. A lot of funds have been spent as seed money or on the training of women,” he said.
The minister added that SHG women running book café is the beginning of a self-sustainability model for these women.