Even as the world celebrates women who've broken the glass ceiling made it big in the entrepreneurial space this International Women's Day (8 March), Firstpost takes a look at a few women micro entrepreneurs who are charting their own path. Away from the spotlight and from the large revenues produced by companies helmed by ambitious women, these micro entrepreneurs are content with their work being known only by the community they serve. They have a passion that has nothing to do with working in a corporate job; their ambition lies in being able to make a difference.
The women featured here are job creators; their goal is not to make money but rather to do something creative for which there is a demand in society. They live in various states across the country but all of them have in common a determination to do things on their own merit. The success they have achieved is commendable.
Aruna Dasari, 35, Hyderabad, MBA-HR
Business: Collects plastic scrap, recycles it and makes granules. Then sells the granules to manufacturers of high density polyethyelene (HDPE) pipes.
Reason for starting business: “I was travelling by train to Bangalore and found a lot of empty plastic bottles lying around and wondered what was being done with so much trash. These bottles are not bio degradable and I thought of recycling them. I wanted to start a PET project but would need a huge loan for it. I wanted to turn entrepreneur with the project and so decided it would be better to start off in a small way. I did a certificate course in recycling from Central Institute of Plastics and Engineering Technology and also a 21-day project at Dalit Indian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (DICC). I have a factory with 25 employees and we run two shifts. I am happy to be a job giver instead of a job taker.”
Revenues: Rs 2 crore annually
Future plans: To set up a HDPE manufacturing unit. Has received loans for the project.
Success quotient: "Anyone can achieve what they want to if they put their mind to it. It is about being confident. Back it up with hard work and you are half-way through. Honesty in your dealings and delivering quality products and services is a trait that will take you far."
Munmun Biswas, 35, Kolkata, NIFT graduate
Business: Five outlets that retail handicrafts from Jharkhand, own label Indiloom of handloom products
Reason for starting business: “I have a talent for design. While in college, I set up a manufacturing unit in my village Bhaina in Ranaghat district where 10 looms were provided to local weavers and they produced sarees. I would sell them from an outlet in Kolkata called Munmun Haat. Later, I went to NIFT and finished a course in design. Indiloom outlets showcase handloom and handicrafts which I procure from West Bengal and Jharkhand for which I provide the designs. We have launched online and in a few months' time will launch two outlets in Kolkata and Delhi.”
Revenues: Around Rs 50 lakh annually
Future plans: To manufacture digital printed fabrics
Success Quotient: "Earning money should not be the prerogative. Love what you do and give people beautiful products and services. My love is in visiting villages and facilitating others to earn money. One must be knowledgeable and experienced about the area one is planning to enter to do business."
Rukaiya Khanjiwala, 44, Mumbai, HSC
Business: Paints, embroiders and makes ridha - formal attire of women of Islamic Dawoodi Bohra community
Reason for starting business: "I can paint and embroider beautifully on cloth. When family members saw the designs on my ridhas with lace, paintings and pretty designs embroidered on them, they would ask me to make for them too. That's how it started. Slowly as word spread, I started getting many orders. I have two workmen who tailor the ridha. I paint and embroider on them. My daughter who is a fashion designer started helping me out. I make a ridha a day and sometimes more than one. During festive and wedding seasons, I get more orders. I can embroider more ridhas in a day but then I would not be able to look after the family and so I only take up work that will not disturb my household. Our label Rukhaiya Creations has a lot of customers now as my daughter helps me now with exquisite designs. My earnings supplement the family income. I browse through magazines to come up with latest designs and thread work which is unique to appeal to customers. My daughter guides me in fine-tuning my designs and shares inputs with her knowledge in fashion design."
Revenues: Rs 20,000 per month.
Future plans: No plans to expand but continue in the same manner as now
Success Quotient: "Gender does not matter. I came to India from Dubai and yet run a small business from home. I don't think men can run a home, look after children and do business."
Aswathi G Krishnan, 34, Ernakulam, MSc (Mathematics)
Business: Creating jewellery from paper – earrings, chains, bangles.
Reason for starting business: “My 15 year-old son’s classmate showed me paper jewellery and I was intrigued. I wanted to learn how to do it. I learnt and then sourced the internet to learn more. My husband started a Facebook page showcasing my products. Before I knew it, I got orders from NRIs in Malaysia and Singapore. I recently put up my products in two exhibitions in Kerala and got a good response. I can paint and so I also do my own designs on the products. It is called Mayilpeeli . There is a lot of competition in the business and I am constantly updating my knowledge by reading about the latest designs and innovations in paper jewellery through magazines and the internet. Prices range from Rs 250 to Rs 500.”
Revenues: Around Rs 10,000 per month
Future plans: To employ two persons so that she can accept an increasing number of orders from abroad
Success Quotient: "Give products and services that are worthy of the price at which they are sold. Do not shortchange on quality or products. Word-of-mouth is what brings in more business."
Sakina Vasanwala, 39, Mumbai, B.Com
Business: Selling bags and jewellery online
Reason for starting business: "I am part of a few ladies' groups in the community. When I saw them exclaiming over bags, imitation jewellery and watches worn by others, I thought, why not make a business of it and be able to procure them for those who want it. That was the idea. After my children go off to school and my husband is away at work, I go to popular shops that sell these merchandise. I look at what are the products that will appeal to customers, take pictures and post it on Whatsapp groups. When someone places an order, I go to these shops, buy the product and courier it. I earn on commission basis. I also get branded products if there is a demand for it. Shopkeepers are happy to give me discounts as I get bulk orders."
Revenues: Rs 10,000 - 12,000 per month
Future plans: To be able to provide the best of products to customers. That's a challenge she likes to overcome every time.
Success Quotient: "One should have a friendly demeanour and be able to talk business to everyone. The Whatsapp groups and ladies' groups cannot remain static. One has to cultivate more people and build clientele. Never trust people blindly even if they are permanent customers. Once the money is paid into your account, courier the products."