By Nicole Suares
For decades, enterprising mothers in Goa pursued needlework, crafts, home bakes and other small businesses from their homes. Today, weekly bazaars and pop-up markets provide a ready platform for entrepreneurs, especially women to sell their products, gain confidence, and build their businesses.
In Pilerne and Saligao, woman power drives the weekly bazaars with determination and commitment. Though open to all, women constitute a majority of their vendors.
MADE IN SALIGAO, WITH LOVE
Artist Clarice Vaz laid the foundation for the vibrant ‘Made in Saligao’ weekly Tuesday market. It aims at empowering women financially, breaking social barriers, and showcasing talent in the village.
Vaz, who isn’t at the helm, but helps out, says, “I conceived this market when I saw the self-help groups in Saligao struggling to sell their homemade stuff at the panchayat. I thought of starting a non-political, inclusive market, open to all gaunkars only.”
The market provides youngsters, like Aldora Fernandes (Elawn Creations), a self-taught artist, opportunities to sell her arty products. A new vendor at the market, she’s satisfied with the response.
A few tables away, Poornima Sakhalkar, a pottery expert, joined the market four years ago. “Clarice brought me here and promoted me in the newspapers and on Facebook. We get additional mileage from the market social media posts,” she says.
CELEBRATING HERITAGE AT PILERNE
Not too far away, in Pilerne, parishioners festoon the John the Baptist Church courtyard with eco-friendly deco for their Thursday Pilerne Heritage Market. Here too, women like Emera Remedios, who is on the social media team run, the show. She owns a home-crafted candle and soap business.
Apart from learning new skills, the exposure to the market ‘helped my small business reach out to many by word of mouth.’
“It encourages budding women entrepreneurs by promoting their work. It has pushed me to try new products and motivated me to work harder and to reinvent myself,” says Emera.
Regulars, like Minguelina Correia, bring her assortment of homemade snacks and sweets.
Another vendor who’s been with the market since it started, Luiza Fernandes, created a following for her brownies and homemade bebinca. The hairdresser by profession took to home baking during the pandemic. “The market was a good source of income. The past three years were tough,” she explains.
For senior citizen, Theresa Sen, the bazaar offers a means to earn post-retirement. Once she relocated from Delhi, she set up Red Roosters Kitchen, serving authentic Goan dishes.
WIDENING THE MARKET
“We believe every woman is a multi-tasker. Apart from her household responsibilities, she can do much more to have the lifestyle of her choice. These events enable more than 2,000 home-run enterprises to take the next step and launch a full-fledged business,” says Sweta Chari, who started Tarang Women Entrepreneurs group along with Mansi Govekar.
The platform allows budding entrepreneurs to promote, sell and market their products. It provides a means for ‘women to stay connected, learn skills, and enhance their knowledge through workshops and awareness programs’.
Tarang’s exhibitions are held in Margao, Panjim and other locations. Since ‘commercial spaces are highly priced,’ she adds, ‘these markets can help women generate income by paying a small fee to the organizer.’ “Also, one can try new products to see how they sell in the market. You will get genuine feedback and connect with customers directly,” she says.
She feels that women can participate part-time by holding on to other responsibilities. Additionally, they get access to WhatsApp groups and social media networks and join wetarang.com. The organisation also conducts different skill development workshops for women and cultural programs.
Given the traditional role of a homemaker, Emera feels that women struggle with independence or confidence. “Such platforms function as a mode of empowerment for women to be entrepreneurial,” she concludes.
Tuesdays, at the Saligao Institute, come alive to merry chatter and the busy market day atmosphere. There’s live music, karaoke sessions, special theme days, and different acts every week. Snacks for the tasting, organic products, handcrafted jewellery, and more are on display.
Says Aquila Fernandes, co-organiser, “It’s strictly homemade products. We check all the food vendors before improving the standards. There’s not much repetition of the products, either.”
The market isn’t only about selling to customers, but acquiring new skills as well. Virginia D’Cruz, co-organiser, and a jewellery vendor conducted a shell-art workshop on Women’s Day. She plans to host a three-day session for women during the summer holidays.