Gurugram, November 9, 2023: As India celebrates Diwali, Akzo Nobel India, the makers of Dulux paints, is celebrating its Indradhanush women who are painting an empowered and diverse future in rural India.
In 2021, AkzoNobel India launched Project Indradhanush with one objective – enabling women to drive micro-entrepreneurship and socio-economic development in rural India. The societal initiative that started from one village in Assam has now expanded to benefit women in 500 villages across the six states of Assam, West Bengal, Tamil Nadu, Haryana, Madhya Pradesh, and Karnataka.
Elaborating on the inspiring impact of this initiative, Rajiv Rajgopal, Managing Director, Akzo Nobel India said, “On the joyous occasion of Diwali, we are proud that Project Indradhanush is playing a role in lighting up a more sustainable future in rural India. By providing women with the necessary paint know-how, resources and vocational skills in the form of decorative paint application and entrepreneurship trainings, Project Indradhanush is unlocking a colourful rainbow of hope, empowerment, financial independence at grassroot level.”
Till date, Project Indradhanush has raised awareness about new livelihood opportunities available in paint business to 34,000 rural women. More than 1,500 rural women are now challenging gender norms as vocationally trained Indradhanush painters. For many like 35-year-old Sonti Deka, whose husband is a daily wage worker, every lick of paint has a deeper meaning. It’s adding to her savings so that she can support her daughter’s college education next year.
Project Indradhanush has also created over 300 first time women paint entrepreneurs in 500 villages of India! Many of the Indradhanush paint-preneurs, who were earlier either homemakers or managing existing small shops including grocery, stationary etc., are now transforming the paint industry in hinterlands while also adding a layer of financial resilience for their families.
Take the case of the 24-year-old Pallavi Bera from the Kulberia village in East Midnapore district of West Bengal. After undergoing the intensive Entrepreneurship Development Program (EDP) training, Pallabi started her own paint shop with support of AkzoNobel. Her paint shop has quickly gained popularity in her village and nearby areas and she’s already changed her family’s financial trajectory.
The final link of this self-sustaining 100% women driven ecosystem are the Indradhanush dealerships – the bridge between Indradhanush women painters and small store owners.
In the Singimari village of Assam’s Darrang district, Ajima Begum’s journey from a homemaker to a successful entrepreneur is heartwarming. From taking care of her family for two decades, Ajima decided to become a paint entrepreneur at the age of 42. As her daughter Mariyam adds, Ajima now has a new sense of pride and confidence that she can achieve anything she sets her mind into. Also grasping the opportunity with both hands are the four entrepreneurs from a women’s self-help group in Tamil Nadu. Previously blue-collar construction workers in their village, they’re now building exciting new futures in the paint industry.