Way forward to Building Women led Enterprises in Odisha – First Action plan by ISB and Mission Shakti

The Indian School of Business and the Government of Odisha signed a memorandum of understanding to work in partnership for sustainable development goals on women’s empowerment and rural prosperity through a sustainable forest economy in December 2022. Under this three-year MoU, ISB and the Department of Mission Shakti will work together to build a prosperous and sustainable forest economy in Odisha through women-led community enterprises, starting with the districts of Malkangiri, Koraput, Nabrangpur, Rayagada, Mayurbhanj, and Kendujhar. 

To facilitate and expedite the project “Women’s Empowerment and Rural Prosperity through Forest-Based Livelihoods”, ISB-BIPP organised a workshop on January 18 and 19, 2023, in collaboration with the Department of Mission Shakti. 

ISB will appoint a team of five members to form the Project Management Unit (PMU). It will base its headquarters at the Department of Mission Shakti in Bhubaneshwar, Odisha. The team will conduct and coordinate all activities related to accomplishing the objectives defined under the partnership. Meanwhile, the current members of the IoFE team at BIPP-ISB will begin the compilation and assessment of data related to rights recognition, mapping, and inventory, provided by the Department of Mission Shakti. 

Action points for ISB were (a) submission of a draft SOP (Standard Operating procedure) for CFR claims, (b) creating a format for collecting and then assimilating data on SHGs and their federations, (c) preparation of an outline for community-owned enterprise formation, and (d) hiring and allocating human resources to conduct district and block level operations. (e) Conduct Participatory Inventory Mapping (PIM) for 10 key tree species for estimation of distribution and available quantity; and (g) conduct training and develop handouts for implementing Ratifi and PIM. 

The Department of Mission Shakti will provide necessary support for the following activities: a) appointing and assigning personnel; b) authorization and official communication at the interdepartmental level; c) information on tiers of community groups and hierarchy to accommodate the enterprise model; d) guidelines and policy interventions to support the formation of community-owned enterprises; and e) information on available state-based financing tools and infrastructure for PMU. 

The objectives—1) to establish criteria to hire and onboard community resource personnel and 2) to identify seed clusters of villages—will be jointly executed by the two entities. 

Broadly, ISB will be responsible for sharing the first draft of the SOP for Participatory Inventory Mapping and executing training to use the Ratifi app and Mission Shakti to nominate nodal heads at the department level and assign district and block coordinators from their end, etc. Each task has its own deadline, but collectively, the activities assigned within the action plan outlined in the meeting will be completed by March 31st. Hence, senior management will meet to evaluate the progress and discuss the next steps in the first week of April. 

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