A Wise Investor, A More Able Entrepreneur - Chandrika Meher | Milaap

A Wise Investor, A More Able Entrepreneur - Chandrika Meher

“Never depend upon a single source of income, make investments to create a second source” – Warren Buffet

During the field visits to borrowers as part of my work as a Milaap Fellow, I met many people who had taken loans for various purposes. Each had utilized the loan in their own way to derive benefits from it. Among them, the way Chandrika Meher, a resident of a small village in Balangir district of Odisha, has utilized the loan amount stands out. Having taken an enterprise loan to expand her business, she used her business acumen to invest wisely, diversify her business and increase her income.

Chandrika at work

Chandrika started her tailoring business with the purpose of financially supporting her family as she found with very difficult to make both ends meet given the meagre income of her husband. Her husband is a seasonal businessman. She had applied for a loan of INR, 20,000 from Mahashakti Foundation to expand her tailoring business. Her original plan was to buy a new tailoring machine and some clothing materials. She had originally planned to employ another female under her as she was unable to manage the numerous orders she was getting.  However, she decided against it as on the grounds that keeping an employee would be an extra burden on her financial resources. She bought the necessary clothing and other materials required for her business minus the sewing machine.

The Press Machines Used By Chandrika

She was, however, on the lookout for opportunities to increase her income for which she had sought the loan. Before her marriage, she had learned to make paper plates using a press machine at her parent’s home. With the help of her father, she bought a second-hand press machine and started her new venture. Her father’s contacts helped her in getting orders for retail shops. Soon, she was also getting orders for marriages and parties as well. She bought another second-hand machine to meet the huge demand of her customers. The paper plates are packaged in lots of 25-35 and priced according to the quality of paper used.  “I am able to earn INR, 150 to 200 per day,” said Chandrika with a smile. The lady bought a solar lamp to enable her to work in the evenings.

The different sizes of paper plates
She didn’t stop here; she combined the remaining amount of the loan with her savings and invested it in her new business, a grocery shop. This venture, however, met with limited success. She was thinking of salvaging her capital by selling of the stock when she got another idea of using it in a better way. Her target customers had been the hotel owners in her area. She decided to use the stock to start her own stall. She makes various types of snacks items such as samosa, vegetable chops, egg chops etc. Her food stall is doing good business. “I am thinking of adding chicken pakora to the list”, said the successful entrepreneur. She admits that she gets tired and has to work hard to cater to all her business. She has divided her day in a coordinated manner so that none of her business is neglected. Seeing the success of her ventures, her husband, who had been initially averse to the idea of her expanding the business, now supports her enthusiastically. “He helps me by taking delivering the orders for the paper plates to Patangarh and in managing the food stall in the evening”, gushes Chandrika with happiness radiating from her voice.

The most satisfying moment for Chandrika came when she provided her husband with capital to start his new fertilizer business. “I would not have reached this far without my husband’s support and help. I wanted to thank him for his support, also it gave me another opportunity to invest” said the lady with a wink.  She wants to educate her only daughter who is currently studying in class 1. Chanrika is open to the idea of her daughter going starting her own business venture though she would prefer her to get a job.
Chandrika wants to expand her tailoring business by purchasing more sewing machines and hiring staff in the future. I am pretty confident the lady will be successfully implementing her long-term plans.