She went from being broke to creating jobs for women | Milaap

She went from being broke to creating jobs for women

In Dakshin Barasat, one of the many small satellite townships that surround the city of Kolkata, employment opportunities are scare for women who have not had to chance to get a proper education. Traditionally, women of these villages are often marginalized and are married off at an early age, and that's as far as their own hopes and aspirations get to go. However, within the last decade, many organizations with progressive ideals have grown out of these environments, to give agency to these women to create a better future for themselves and their children.
 
One organization that has done much to combat the stagnant socioeconomic position of women in the more rural areas of West Bengal is DCBS. That day, I had arrived at their headquarters in Dakshin Barasat in order to gain insight on a particular woman whose life was greatly impacted through the services of DCBS and generosity of Milaap lenders.
 
Salma Mandal is a wife and mother to a young daughter who is currently enrolled in the 5th grade. She hails from a very small hamlet called Natun Hat, Bakultala which is about a 20 minute auto-rickshaw ride from Dakshin Barasat. I was lucky enough to be invited to her home to discuss her past her current situation and her plans for the future.
 
Salma told me that she has been associated with DCBS for about 5 years, and had been receiving small loans for her embroidery business and for her husband’s small grocery business. "In the beginning, DCBS helped us establish small businesses that have allowed us to live comfortably and start our daughter's education."
 
Unfortunately, during the economic recession a few years ago, her "Chikan & Zari" style embroidery business began to falter as the amount of custom orders she received dropped. "It was very hard for us to rely solely on my husband's income." She explained that at that point they could not afford to hire a tutor for her daughter, which was a difficult decision to make for them.
 
In order to change her dire circumstances for the better, she reached out to DCBS to apply for a loan for a sewing machine. Salma had always been very skilled with a needle and thread, and had experience in tailoring. So she decided that starting a new tailoring business would help her family financially. Thanks to lenders like you from all over the world Milaap, was able to allocate funds to DCBS for her to be able to purchase a new sewing machine.
 
I was able to see some of her work and was surprised when I saw three sewing machines in the makeshift workplace that is attached to their home. "Right from the beginning business was good.  I am receiving weekly orders from various clothing stores at the local bazaar." She told me that her sister has also joined her venture, and that she was able to invest in two new sewing machines because of her success. "I am still paying the loan back but the weekly payments do not stress me anymore. [...] I plan on expanding my business even further because many have become interested in taking part in the business and orders keep coming." It was amazing to see and hear the confidence exude from her and her constant smile convinced me that things are looking up for her and her family. At the end of my visit, she expressed her gratitude for Milaap and DCBS, "Without the support of these organizations, my family would be in a very different place. It's amazing that there are people from so far away who care about my situation!


Salma sits with her new sewing machine