It was a beautiful Monday afternoon. The high sunlit clouds drifted across the blue sky, splitting light all over the land of Chandkheda, Gujarat. It is a neighborhood that lies west of the Sabarmati river, and is in the northern portion of the huge metropolitan city of Ahmedabad. Gradually, with my frequent visits, I realized that this district has a very high number of women entrepreneurs, who are successfully running their various micro businesses of selling snacks, embroidery, imitation jewelry, beauty parlors, and particularly, selling readymade garments.
As I walked past the narrow lanes in rural Chandkheda, accompanied by one of the Prayas unit staff members, it became more and more difficult to find the house of Sakuben Darbar. It looked like a sea of similar houses. I was here to check on the progress of Aarti Mahila Mandal, a group being led by Sakuben, after they had borrowed an enterprise loan from Milaap’s community of lenders.
Sakuben, a 51-year-old woman with a warm smile, welcomed us into her home. This hardworking woman has been running her business of selling vegetables for the past 34 long years now. I was utterly amazed on learning how Sakuben so vehemently wanted to grow this business further. That excessive fervor to accomplish this was so apparent as she expressed her desire to rent a space and expand this business. At present, she is a street vendor who owns a cart and sells fresh vegetables in the neighborhood. With her loan from Milaap six months back, she was able to buy a lot of stock in bulk. This tremendously helped her in supplementing the family income. Her constant source of support, her husband has always encouraged her. He works as a security guard on the night shift, and helps his wife at selling vegetables during the day.
“With my increasing age, there are a lot of health challenges that I am facing. So now I intend to own a shop, so that it makes things a bit simpler. But I don’t want to stop working,” Sakuben expressed her keen interest in working for a lot longer.
The loan from Milaap helped in making things better for an industrious entrepreneur like Sakuben and she is certainly grateful for it.
Sakuben at her home