Bhubaneswar: Vedanta Jharsuguda, India’s largest producer of aluminium and value-added products, has bagged ‘Runner Up’ position at the prestigious BRICS India Solutions for Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) Awards 2021.

The company won the coveted award in SDG 5: Gender Equality category for its flagship community development project in women empowerment – Subhalaxmi Co-operative, a 4100+ member strong all-women co-op society operating in Jharsuguda, Odisha. This is a global and international achievement among the BRICS countries (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) to recognize businessesfor driving grassroots realization of UN SDGs.

Vedanta conceived the project in 2008, during the inception phase of its Aluminium Smelter at Jharsuguda, in response to the high demand for livelihood opportunities in nearby villages. Started with only 10 women and their initial contribution of Rs 1000, Subhalaxmi Co-op has grown in strength over a decade to become one of India’s largest rural women’s cooperatives with presence in 72 villages of Jharsuguda. At its core, Subhalaxmi Co-op has four basic components – Capacity Building and Livelihood Promotion, Financial Services (savings& credit facilities), Social Development, and Collaboration & Partnership.

Vedanta Ltd. Aluminum Business CEO Rahul Sharma, said, “The principles of sustainable & responsible development have guided our action at and beyond operations. It has been our greatest honour to be the partner in progress of these superwomen from Jharsuguda. Hailing from humble backgrounds, they have challenged and overcome various stereotypes to establish themselves as trailblazers. We dedicate the prestigious BRICS Award to all the members of Subhalaxmi Co-operative and their determination to create a name for themselves in the society. We will continue to enable them to evolve into a movement of great transformation that will stand as a beacon of empowerment for women all over the world.”

To ensure alternate means of livelihood for the women of the region, Subhalaxmi Co-op provides need based financial services in terms of savings, credit and insurance; promotes micro enterprisesthrough Business Development Services (BDS); links potential entrepreneurs and enterprises with suitable market opportunities;trains& educates the members, elected representatives and managing committee to ensure effective functioning of the society; and works for the sustainable development of the members.

Expressing her delight, Pushpanjali Seth, former president of Subhalaxmi Co-operative, adds,“It is a matter of immense pride and fulfilment for us to see our Subhalaxmi Co-operative society get such international acclaim. Each one of our women members is a shining example of true empowerment that happens when one’s will to progress is enabled through skill development, financial literacy, financial inclusion and welfare schemes. Vedanta’s dream has and will continue to evolve, as we march on to include even more women into this society and enable them to pursue their aspirations.”