Thematic Area: Livelihoods (Non-Farm)
Smita Sagun Vernekar was born in Salvador do Mundo in Bardez block. Later she moved to Mumbai along with her family. After completing her education, her family shifted back to Goa and she started working in a private company.
After her marriage to Mr.Sagun Vernekar they settled in Sirsiam village of Bardez block. They have two children,both have completed their education. Her husband works as a reporter for Tarun Bharat newspaper and she manages “Babloo Soft toys” manufacturing unit.
Smita is very hardworking and passionate about her work. One day while returning home from her work place, she and her husband met with an accident and she fractured both her legs. It took her five years to recover, she had to leave her job. She was very disappointed at the time and did not know what to do. Her children were small and her family needed financial support. To keep herself busy she enrolled herself to a soft toys making course, where she learned to make 35 different types of soft toys. After completing the course she started making soft toys and gifting it to small children for their birthday. People started placing orders for soft toys. Everyone loved her creation.
When her children were small and attending Kindergarten school, their teacher told her about an exhibition to be organized by the handicraft department. She decided to participate in one such exhibition and the response she received was good. She made a huge profit which gave her confidence to manufacture more soft toys.
Gradually her business started growing and she got more opportunities to go to other states to participate in exhibitions organized by the handicraft department. Through this department she was given an opportunity to conduct a course for making soft toys and artificial jewelry for groups of 10 to 20 women. Till date she has conducted classes for more then 2000 women. From this group around fifty women are manufacturing soft toys.
In the year 2005 she came in contact with Mr. Eknath Shirodkar form the department of rural livelihood and under the SSGY scheme she formed Ganesh self help group with 16 members. She was able to attend meetings with different departments educate herself about the various schemes her group could benefit.
In the year 2018 she joined Goa SRLM “Stree Shakti”. This helped her to get financial support for her self help group in the form of loan. As her business was blooming she required more financial support which encouraged her to avail a loan from the bank. Knowing the benefits of being a member of a self help group she motivated other women and managed to form 5 self help groups. She trained them how to conduct meetings, banking transactions, booking keeping, etc. During this time she got an opportunity to participate in Goa Saras, she also represented Goa at the Delhi Saras. After participating in exhibitions in other states she was confident and was able to visualize new ideas to create different items.
She is satisfied with her work as she was able to improve the financial stability of her family and empower six more women by providing them employment in her business.
She is also thankful to her mother in law who was always there to support her.