House Maid To An Entrepreneur

Mina Devi (age 43) got married to Surendra Kumar (age 45), a mason, 23 years ago and came to her in-law’s house at Hazaribagh in Jharkhand. It was a joint family and father in law used to earn good. Later the family got separated and while managing the household expenses with mere Rs. 3,000 – 4,000 per month from the income of her husband, Mina Devi suddenly found herself in the middle of an ocean.

People of Hazaribagh, one of country’s 250 underdeveloped districts, are known for their hard work. Mina Devi was not an exception to that. To help her husband, she started working as a house maid and later, somehow managed to purchase a second hand sewing machine and started working at piece rate at her home. This helped them to increase their monthly family income to almost Rs. 5,000 – 6,000. But at the current inflation rate, the amount was not at all sufficient as the cost of living kept increasing. To add to her worries her son (Suraj Kumar, age 22) was getting older too and his education expenses had started increasing as well.

In such a helpless situation, in the middle of 2009, she came to know about a company named Ujjivan which was providing business loans to economically active poor women from one of her neighbors. Ujjivan had just started its operation in that area a few months ago. After discussing with Ujjivan staff, she along with some of her neighbours formed a group of women and applied for loans from Ujjivan.

Just after few days, she got her first loan of Rs. 8,000 from Ujjivan. She used the money to buy raw materials and started her own tailoring business from home besides working at piece rate. Gradually her business started improving and she expanded her business from home to a rented shop besides main road at Shivpuri Chawk, one of the main business areas of Hazaribagh, from the very next year and started Saree business. Currently, she is accessing Rs. 50,000 from Ujjivan in her 5th loan cycle and she has used the money into Saree business and Cosmetics materials business. Recently she has purchased one Picco Machine as well spending Rs. 6,500 for her business.

Mina Devi is now the main income earning member of the household. Her husband helps her at the shop whenever he is not having any other work. Her income has increased almost 5 times in last 5 years (Rate of increase is 100% per year) causing 3 times increase in their household income even though the income of her husband has almost remained the same. She is now employing two labors at her shop.

Not only in financial terms, Ujjivan’s microfinance has impacted/improved her life in various other ways as well. Financial stability has not only improved her status within the household, but also improved their social status among neighbours. Relationships with her spouse, in-laws and neignbours have also improved. Participation in social and religious festivals have improved as well. As she has now become the main income earning member of the household, her participation in decisions on business related issues, household related issues and issues related to their son have improved a lot. Her son recently passed 12th standard and is currently studying in 1st year of B.Com from a private collage. She is now spending almost Rs. 700 per month on her son’s education. The increased income has given her the luxury of spending Rs. 500 for household durables per month and Rs. 500 for leisure as well. She has recently purchased one second hand colored TV spending Rs. 3,000 for their home.

She is now visualizing a planned business growth in coming years by not only increasing her stock but also by diversifying her products to meet larger requirements of her customers. For that she will be required to have access to higher loan amounts. Ujjivan branch is also thinking likewise. They are planning to give her an Individual Business Loan of higher loan amount in her next loan cycle.

Mina Devi thanks Ujjivan for all the help that she got and proudly states that “I am really thankful to Ujjivan for whatever I have now. I was a housemaid before joining Ujjivan’s microfinance program and currently there are two staff working in my shop.”….. “Good behavior of Ujjivan staff and sufficient credit amounts as per my credit requirements by Ujjivan have stopped me from going to any other organization for credit. It saves time as well for me.”….. “I really feel very proud when I find many people acknowledging me and my hard work. Thank you – Ujjivan”.