"Empowering Women in the Legume Market"

- Yuvika Adhikari and Bibhor Kayastha

In Ramechhap, Nepal, a groundbreaking collaborative action research project called Co- producing a Shock-Resilient Business Ecosystem for Women-led Enterprises (CREW) is underway. Led by ARIA in Ramechhap corridor, this project aims to create an inclusive ecosystem of support for women-engaged enterprises while simultaneously promoting the district's prospects in legume production. This blog delves into the transformative effects of branding and packaging strategies on market dynamics, empowering women to secure better rates for their rajma (kidney beans).

Integrating Women's Well-being and Legume Production:
ARIA, through the CREW project, is taking a unique approach to enhance Ramechhap's status as a pocket area of legumes. Recognizing the critical role of women in the legume market, ARIA seeks to integrate women's well-being and empowerment with the district's legume production. By doing so, we aim to create a sustainable and resilient business ecosystem that benefits both the women-led enterprises and the broader community.

Transforming Market Dynamics through Branding and Packaging: One of the key strategies employed by ARIA is the implementation of effective branding and packaging techniques. By investing in these areas, the project aims to increase the market value and demand for locally produced rajma. The transformative effects of these strategies are multi-fold, as they not only enhance the visibility and appeal of the product but also empower women to negotiate better prices for their produce.

ARIA's Unique Approach of blending economic empowerment with social well-being: What sets ARIA apart is its holistic approach that combines economic empowerment with social well-being. By integrating women's well-being into the legume production process, ARIA ensures that women-led enterprises are not only economically successful but also thrive in a supportive and inclusive environment. Through capacity-building initiatives, mentoring, and access to resources, ARIA empowers women to overcome barriers and build resilient enterprises.

Empowering Women-led Enterprises by unlocking Economic Power: ARIA's CREW project directly contributes to SDG 5 (Gender Equality) by empowering women through economic opportunities and promoting their active participation in the legume market. By securing better rates for their rajma, women-led enterprises gain financial independence and contribute to reducing gender inequalities.

For years, women involved in rajma sales in Rampur faced constrained financial opportunities due to limited pricing. Recognizing this issue, a project was initiated to create an environment conducive to economic empowerment through targeted strategies.

The Power of Branding and Packaging: The project intervention focused on leveraging branding and packaging techniques to enhance the market value of locally produced rajma. By raising awareness in the community about the upcoming interventions, news spread regarding the project's objective to empower local women economically. This created a ripple effect, generating enthusiasm and anticipation among the women engaged in rajma sales.

Building a Shock-Resilient Business Ecosystem: ARIA recognizes the importance of creating a shock-resilient business ecosystem. By equipping women-led enterprises with the necessary tools, knowledge, and support, ARIA enhances their ability to withstand and recover from shocks such as market fluctuations or natural disasters. This aligns with SDG 8 (Decent Work and Economic Growth) and reinforces the project's commitment to building a sustainable and resilient local economy.

A Ripple of Change: Even before the formal implementation of the project, a significant shift was observed in the market dynamics. Women in rajma sales began negotiating higher prices per pathi (local metric equivalent to ~3.5 kgs) for their produce with external agencies. This early success can be attributed to the perceived value associated with the project's focus on branding and packaging. The interventions generated a sense of anticipation and trust among external buyers, resulting in increased market demand for locally produced rajma.

Empowering Women: A Step Towards Gender Equality (SDG 5): The project's impact on women empowerment is truly remarkable. By enabling them to negotiate better prices and enhancing their market access, the project contributes to gender equality in the legume market. Women are gaining economic power and overcoming the limitations imposed by the previous pricing structure. This newfound empowerment opens doors for economic growth and independence, aligning with SDG 5's vision of achieving gender equality and empowering all women and girls.

Driving Sustainable Economic Development (SDG 8): Through branding and packaging strategies, the project effectively enhances the value and marketability of locally produced rajma. This leads to increased profits and improved economic opportunities for women engaged in rajma sales. By creating sustainable livelihoods, fostering entrepreneurship, and reducing poverty, the project plays a vital role in driving sustainable economic development (SDG 8).

Engaging the Youth in Innovation (SDG 4 and SDG 9): The project's interventions have not only empowered women but also engaged the youth. By raising awareness about the project's objectives and potential impact, it has sparked enthusiasm among the younger generation. The focus on branding and packaging techniques has encouraged youth involvement and innovation. They have contributed their ideas and creativity to develop sustainable packaging solutions, fostering progress towards SDG 4 (Quality Education) and SDG 9 (Industry, Innovation, and Infrastructure).

The project's transformative effects on the legume market in Rampur, Nepal, are remarkable. By leveraging branding and packaging strategies, women engaged in rajma sales have secured better rates, enhancing their economic power and market access. This project aligns with the SDGs, particularly SDG 5 (Gender Equality), SDG 8 (Decent Work and Economic Growth), SDG 4 (Quality Education), and SDG 9 (Industry, Innovation, and Infrastructure). Through empowerment, sustainable economic development, and youth engagement, this project paves the way for a more inclusive and prosperous legume market. The success achieved in Rampur serves as an inspiration to empower women and drive positive change in communities worldwide.

Through the CREW project, ARIA is pioneering a transformative approach to empower women- led enterprises and enhance the legume market in Ramechhap, Nepal. By leveraging branding and packaging strategies, ARIA creates opportunities for women to secure better rates for their rajma, thereby improving their economic power and well-being. ARIA's holistic approach, combining economic empowerment with social well-being, fosters an inclusive and resilient business ecosystem. This project aligns with SDG 5 and SDG 8, contributing to gender equality, decent work, and sustainable economic growth. ARIA's efforts serve as a beacon of inspiration for empowering women and creating inclusive business environments in communities around the world.