Project Unnati – The women empowerment program trains and prepares women for entrepreneurial activities
Balconagar; 06th July 2023: Bharat Aluminium Company Limited (BALCO), India’s iconic aluminium producer and a subsidiary of Vedanta Aluminium, the largest producer of aluminium in the country, celebrated World Chocolate Day through a new product launch from Project Unnati, its self-help group (SHG) program. It has now added a brand-new ‘Exotic’ collection to its range of home-made chocolates with the addition of delicious Blueberry and Cranberry Chocolates and sold under Project Unnati’s UnChoc brand.
These chocolates are made by rural women under the company’s Chhattisa initiative, a part of Project Unnati, which focuses on empowering and mobilizing women into self-help groups (SHGs), honing their capacities and skills for entrepreneurship and building sustainable livelihoods. It now trains over 50 women in chocolate-making through training and workshops, giving them the opportunity to pursue chocolate-making as an entrepreneurial avenue.
Aimed at training participants in traditional Chhattisgarhi cuisine, the Chhattisa initiative provides women with additional ways to establish thriving businesses and generate income to sustain themselves independently. Its UnChoc brand encompasses a variety of chocolates ranging from classic varieties like Dark chocolate, Milk chocolate, and White chocolate, as well as nutty variations featuring Almonds, Cashews, and Raisins. In line with Chhatisa’s mission of blending traditional Chhattisgarh cuisines with modern flavours, the self-help group female members have also introduced chocolates infused with Cardamom and Calumpang nuts (Chironjee), expanding the several options available.
Understanding the rising levels of health consciousness and a growing preference for nutritious ingredients combined with delicious treats, the self-help group members have also included protein-rich ingredients such as grams and peanuts in their heavenly treats under the ‘Desi Nutty’ category, enabling consumers to enjoy taste with wholesomeness. Chhattisa offers an extensive range of 7 homemade chocolate varieties that can be purchased by consumers on a pre-order basis.
Appreciating the efforts of self-help groups under Project Unnati, Mr. Rajesh Kumar, CEO, and Director, BALCO said, “We are committed to fostering a transformative environment where women can thrive, adapt, and lead in an ever-evolving world. The introduction of homemade chocolates under Chhattisa not only meets the budding consumer preferences but also empowers women in our community to adapt to prevailing tastes and requirements. At BALCO, our unwavering dedication to social responsibility drives us to create meaningful opportunities for women through self-help groups, enabling them to build sustainable livelihoods. Project Unnati is a testament to our focused efforts towards empowering women and igniting their entrepreneurial spirit, shaping a brighter future for their entire communities.”
Sharing her experience, Dhaneshwari Goswami, a participant who benefitted from Chhatisa’s chocolate-making workshops, expressed, “I had never imagined that I would make homemade chocolates similar to those we buy from the market. Thanks to BALCO’s chocolate-making workshops that equipped me and other participants with a valuable skill, enabling us to generate additional income by selling handmade chocolates as delightful gifts. Today, I am not only involved in chocolate production and sales, but I am also privileged to mentor other women aspiring to pursue chocolate making as a livelihood.”
Project Unnati focuses on empowering and mobilizing women into SHGs and honing their capacities and skills for entrepreneurship and building sustainable livelihoods. Within this fiscal itself, over 40 new SHGs have been formed, taking the total number to 500+ SHGs with more than 5,300 women who greatly benefit from the various training modules of the project. The project is currently being implemented in collaboration with GPR Strategies & Solutions, a non-governmental organization (NGO) dedicated to community and social services.