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“We are not scared to dream as we are in this together” - Badichi*

22-year old Badichi, from the Bettakurumba tribe lives with her mother and her brother’s family in a small village in Erumad, Nilgiris. She studied up to 8th standard and had to discontinue her studies. Badichi then started working in tea plantations and occasionally with the NREGA program.

Badichi and other women from her village were part of a daily wage labour system and struggled to make ends meet. Daily wages at local tea estates were seasonal while the work was back breaking. After plucking anything between 20 - 40kgs of tea leaves laboriously throughout the day women have to carry it to the nearest collection point.

An enterprising woman, Badichi had been instrumental in the village savings scheme which has become a model for all the Adivasi villages in this region.

At the same time Badichi and her friends kept noticing that their expenses were increasing. Vendors who came to sell apparel to them were charging them very high prices, but they didn’t have the capability to bargain. Also the other alternative was to travel to the town, which wasn’t easy for them as they would lose a day’s wage. They knew they were being cheated but wondered if they could change this.

While Badichi and her friends craved for an exposure for more opportunities beyond tea leaf plucking, they needed an assured and stable income, they felt self employment was an option but not their cup of tea. To run a business they knew they had to develop their confidence to negotiate a harsh world on their own terms with dignity and pride. 

They approached the Area team of ACCORD (a registered society which has been working with the tribal communities of Gudalur for the past 37 years). 

Coincidentally, the EcoFemme team (an organisation in Auroville and an avid supporter of ACCORD) visited Gudalur and held a session to discuss menstruation and eco-friendly options for women. This triggered an idea within Badichi and her friends to achieve their aspirations of self employment. Could some of them team up and start something?

Badichi with 9 other women from the Kattunayakan, Bettakurumba, Paniya tribes with a common interest in tailoring and the will to do something different decided to take the plunge with the support of ACCORD. This led to the birth of URUMALA with 10 women as co-founders of Urumala.

At the end of the first year, the women who run URUMALA, have gone through an incredible transformation within themselves and with regard to their surroundings.

Skilled craftspeople:From being novices, they now use start of art electric sewing machines. They have stitched over 5000 pads and received highly positive feedback from several leading cloth pads manufacturers and distributors in the country.

Armed with a sense of purpose: None of them had travelled outside their villages and towns. After the field visit to Ecofemme, the women at Urumala have developed a view of the outside world and have reported an increased sense of agency and purpose. 

Increased autonomy: 95% of these women entrepreneurs have reported being able to be a part of the financial decision-making in their family, after they started URUMALA.

Finding their voice: All of them have seen improved confidence in voicing their opinion both in their work and personal life. Their communication skills have improved manifold. 

Earning the respect of the community: The change in perception and attitudes in their families have percolated within the community as well. They are now respected by a larger cross section of people in their villages. 

The Ripple Effect: Elders from the community acknowledge the impact of Urumala across the tribal hamlets and have requested support to replicate Urumala.


The team at Urumala is keen to expand across dimensions. They would like more of their community to be part of this initiative. However to do this they need to make their business sustainable and need your help to achieve their dream.

ACCORD- Action for Community Organisation Rehabilitation and Development

ACCORD- Action for Community Organisation Rehabilitation and Development

Beneficiary Charity

Siddharth Muthu

Siddharth Muthu


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