Emergence of Entrepreneurship: A Livelihood Strategy of Tribal Women of Andhra Pradesh, India

Emergence of Entrepreneurship: A Livelihood Strategy of Tribal Women of Andhra Pradesh, India

Krishnaveni Motha (National Scheduled Tribes Finance and Development Corporation, India)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-2819-8.ch011
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Micro enterprises are increasingly being accepted as a path to improving livelihoods in rural areas, especially among tribal women, happening largely due to loss of collective ownership of lands, depletion of natural resources, intrusion of dominant outsiders in their private properties, and deforestation. These factors are contributing to a disadvantageous situation deepening the poverty among tribals, especially women. The emergence of community-based organisations like self-help groups, cooperatives, government schemes, and programs has facilitated this new trend. Women in tribal societies are considered economic assets, and the increasing access to entrepreneurial activities increases the overall household income and improves their quality of life. The chapter covers the nature of enterprises run by tribal women, the sources of support system, and the nature of their involvement in enterprise management.
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Indigenous/tribal people constitute 15% (approximately 370 million in over 90 countries) of the world’s poor although they make up only five percent of the global population. Over the years, indigenous/tribal people around the world have suffered greatly as a result of shifting economic forces, advancing technologies, encroaching population centers, deforestation, and colonial expansion. To varying degrees indigenous/tribal communities both in India and around the world have suffered geographical and population dislocations. Chronic poverty of almost all indigenous people is one of the most indisputable attributes that sharpens the dilemma of economic development. Despite the enormous diversity of indigenous population and their circumstances, relative economic deprivation characterizes the vast majority of indigenous population all over the world. Indigenous/tribal people along with other poor population of the world have been the target of a wide range of initiatives, efforts and programs to facilitate their economic development due to the depressing economic statistics about them.

India is home to about 700 tribal groups with a population of 104 million, as per Census of India (2011). These indigenous people constitute the second largest tribal population in the world after Africa. Tribes of India comprise approximately 8.6% of Indian population (Census of India 2011) and represent the most disadvantaged group in the country with many of them experiencing acute poverty and unemployment. Tribals are not only poor but also severely disadvantaged in terms of broader socio political measures. Land, forest and forest resources play a significant role in the economy of any tribal society in India due to the importance of forests and land in their social, cultural and economic survival. It is to be noted that the tribal/indigenous economy is basically subsistence economy. Tribals operate in separate economic system which is fully different from the main stream economy (Behara, 2017).

Traditionally they produce only for themselves and for their immediate community. With the loss of forest cover and accelerated deforestation, the socio-economic and ecological impacts on local indigenous/tribal communities have become acute. Degradation of the surrounding environment and rigid forest laws have adversely affected food accessibility, livelihood options and quality of life of local tribal communities. Numerous factors are contributing to the disadvantageous situation deepening the poverty among tribals especially women in recent times. However, with the gradual loss of collective ownership of lands and other natural resources and the introduction by dominant outsiders of institutions of private property, tribal women progressively lost their traditional rights to land and natural resources. Many factors contribute to generate this disadvantageous situation for women. Loss of land, water and forests experienced by indigenous/tribal people is especially deepening the poverty among tribal women while increasing their domestic load and subsistence responsibilities. Since many tribal women have low educational levels they are excluded from job opportunities and community management roles.

The introduction of the cash economy has eroded their independence as self-reliant food producers, healers, artisans, and spiritualists, and their role in production in the economy and their community life has declined. Changes in traditional social, cultural and political institutions and practices have led to a loss of rules and codes of behavior that have been instrumental in ensuring gender-sensitive structures in the tribal society. Indigenous/tribal women in many countries face numerous barriers in their access to education, health care, sanitation and other basic services, and are excluded from decision-making on programmes to meet these needs and entitlements. Recently numerous programs and projects that are being implemented by various countries and UN agencies are providing external assistance for economic development of indigenous/tribal women around the world.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Minor Forest Produce(MFP): Non-timber forest produce of plant origin which includes bamboo, canes, fodder, leaves, gums, waxes, dyes, resins and many forms of food including nuts, wild fruits, honey, lac, etc. that are available in the forests and form major source of livelihood to tribal communities in India.

Achievement Motivation: An individual’s desire/need for achievement.

Koya Tribals: Largest scheduled tribal community who inhabit East and West Godavari districts of Andhra Pradesh, India.

Micro Enterprises: Enterprises having investment less than Rs.25 Lakhs.

Livelihood Strategies: Activity which provides income and fulfills the necessities of life.

Konda Reddis: One of the primitive/ancient tribal communities who lives on the hilly terrains of Bison Hills that spread in East and West Godavari districts, Andhra Pradesh along the banks of the river Godavari.

Khasi Tribals: Indigenous/tribal ethnic group of Meghalaya State in the north-eastern part of India.

Indigenous People: Aborigines and native people of the country.

Subsistence Economy: Economy based on the natural resources to fulfill basic needs, which is non-monetary in nature, earned through hunting, gathering, and seasonal agriculture and allied activities.

Borrowed Entrepreneurs: Entrepreneurs who borrows ideas and skills to establish themselves and imitate/take inspiration from entrepreneurs who are already established in the field.

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