Kozhikode: Women shopkeepers and attendants are no longer a novelty in Kerala and malls too have their fair presence. An upcoming mall here is set to create history as it will be run exclusively by women. A consortium of 10 women organised under the Kudumbashree project of self-help groups is behind this venture, aptly named Mahila Mall. The six-storey mall is coming up in a rented building opposite Fathima Hospital, on Wayanad road, a few meters away from the KSRTC bus station in Kozhikode.
The innovative project, to be run by the Unity Group, comes up at a time when the government-announced Kudumbasree bazaars in all 14 districts are still a non-starter.
The 35,000 sq ft mall on a 64-cent plot will house nearly 60 shops on four floors. The shops will fetch a minimum Rs 9,000 rent each per month. On the ground floor, the charges would be slightly higher -- Rs 13,000 per month for a shop of 10x10 feet. On the first floor, the charges would begin from Rs 11,000 and it would be Rs 10,000 in the second floor and Rs 9,000 on the third floor.
“The fourth and fifth floors are left for conference rooms and play area. The roof top would be converted into a food court. This would be the first-of-its kind in the country,” claimed project officer Ramsi Ismail.
First priority would be given to Kudumbasree entrepreneurs to run the shops; in their absence, women societies and women entrepreneurs would be given the slots.
“For those who cannot afford the charges inside the mall, a micro-bazaar will be open in the open-car park area. It will accommodate 35 stalls on a daily basis. We are planning to start the mall before this Onam, and it would be open on all days, except, Sundays, that too open from 10 am to 10 pm. If there is ample crowd, there are plans to open a night cafe,” the project officer added.
The management is already getting enquiries from people around Kozhikode. Already slots for 35 shops are booked, and interestingly, 65 per cent of them are from the Kudumbasree entrepreneurs. Apart from boutiques and beauty parlours, a mini-Kudumbasree supermarket is also planned on the ground floor. In the parking area at the basement, there would be space for car wash also. ATMs and cash deposit machines would be set up on the ground floor for the shoppers.
According to Vijaya K, the group secretary, the idea for the project came up after they found that many women entrepreneurs are busy with their stall only during Onam, Vishu or Ramadan seasons. “We thought of engaging them throughout the year, if we could provide them with a permanent venue that is exclusively for women. We asked those who are interested in running the shops to keep women as employees, giving maximum opportunities for women. She-taxis are also being coordinated to pick and drop customers to the mall. In addition, services of women autorickshaw drivers are also sought,” says Vijaya.
There are plans to improve the play area for children into a tuition centre, accommodating even school-going children and making into a crèche in future. The Unity group has 10 women including Beena K (president), Divya K (vice president), Vijaya K (secretary), Jisha CP, Leena K, Sabira NP, Sheena MK, Najumunneesa, Shahida and Sajeena.
About Rs 2 crore is the estimated preliminary outlay for furnishing and setting up of stalls. This is excluding the three-year rent of nearly Rs 13 lakh per month, which would be renewed after the first three years.
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