Defeating poverty- Shubina creates niche for herself!
When Shubina Rashid was forced to give up her studies in 10th standard due to the bad economic condition of her family, it was a tough time for her. She not only withstood the challenge to support her poor family, but also emerged as an entrepreneur in her own right as a successful beekeeper. Today she serves as an example for girls like her coming from a humble background but aspiring to make it big.
Shubina, now in her twenties, was born to a poor laborer father and a home maker mother in Sumbal area of district Bandipora. Youngest among the four siblings, she dropped out of school in 10th grade as her family was not in a position to afford the expenses of her studies.
“It pinched me at heart to leave my studies mid way but there was no other option. I had to support my family. It was a difficult moment for me.”
Struggling with the difficult times, her uncle came to her rescue. He taught her embroidery on shawls and clothes which fetched her a good sum.
Life went on like this until August 2005 when a self-help group came to her village with a handicraft project and created a group of some ten girls and trained them in skills of shawl and stole embroidery.
“They trained us and paid us subsidy loans for getting the material. After we were done with our product, we could easily sell it in the market. I earned Rs 4000 per month and it helped my family a lot financially,” she said.
Later in 2010, Mercy Corps, an international non-profit organisation, came up with its honey agribusiness development project called ‘Bees for Business’ to Sumbal.
They engaged young people, socially and economically to create a better life for themselves.
“I joined the group of enthusiastic youth from my village and was fortunate enough to get selected as one of the 10 members who would get training and materials necessary to start a bee-keeping business,” recalls Shubina.
Today she is a proud secretary of the ten-person business group, which has five groups each group made up of 10 members as entrepreneurs, producing high quality local honey in collaboration with a local processing partner.
“We have 60 hives for our group as well as the superior Italian bees and bee-keeping equipment. The boxes are placed on community land contributed by any member of the group voluntarily.”
The hives are owned by the individual members of the group, but the branded product is co-owned.
After tending the bees for last one year, it was a proud moment for Shubina and other members when they marketed about 12 quintals of high quality organic honey in Sheri Kashmir International Convention Centre (SKICC) at a function organized by Mercy Corps.
“This is the moment I have been waiting for so long,” she said with a smile.
Each bottled honey was sold at Rs 300 per kg.
“I had the sachet of their honey and it tastes great,” said one of the buyers.
“Nothing is impossible,” says Shubina, who is also a member of Village Welfare Committee, Sumbal which addresses the issues concerning youth.
While introducing Shubina and other members of the ‘Bees for Business’ project, Director Kashmir Chapter of Mercy Corps, Usman Ahmed said Kashmir needs more entrepreneurs like her.
“People like Shubina are the powerful advocates for positive change in the society.”
Her family members who have been supported Shubina are proud of her achievement.
“I want to be an inspiration for other girls,” said Shubina who is now known as the ‘beekeeper of Kashmir.’