I had the wonderful opportunity to meet with Gayatri Naskar, an entrepreneurial woman who has been associated with DCBS for about six years. Mrs. Naskar lives in a small remote village called Maynapur that is a twenty minute bicycle ride from the larger commercial hub of Jaynagar. Gayatri lives with her husband and her young son who is currently enrolled in class three at a local public school.
When I reached Gayatri Naskar's home, I found her son playing with marbles with a couple of neighborhood friends on his veranda which stretched across the length of his small yet quaint single-storey ground-level home. The building was constructed with mud bricks and the ceiling was a combination of thatched hay and a tin sheet that covered the rooms. It was clear that the infrastructure in the area was quite poor because I could see a jumble of wires and chords connecting their home to the rest of the grid. I was not surprised that when we got to Gayatri's home, the current had been gone for about half an hour with no sign of when it was coming back. I sat down with Gayatri and her husband for a chat while her son played with his friends.
I found out that Gaytri and her husband started a leather goods shop out of their home about 6 years ago. The main motivation to get into the business was the financial stability this work would bring. With the help of DCBS, they were able to start producing quality leather handicrafts from their home that would ultimately be distributed all over India and even Asia. Although the lion's share of the profits from this business go to the suppliers and distributors of their goods, they are now earning enough where they can send their child to school and invest in their business.
Their most recent investment in their business was acquiring a few solar lanterns through a DCBS/Milaap partnership. According to Gayatri, the main reason they opted to receive the lights was because the little workshop attached to their home only has one light bulb that is rendered useless when the power goes out. "In our line of work, proper lighting is crucial to making the right stitches and and operating the machines; the lanterns have been a huge help because we cannot rely on the electricity we pay bills for." With no real sign of any improvements being done to the infrastructure of their remote village, Gayatri is content with the solar lanterns providing light for her family, and she and her husband thank the kind people at Milaap and DCBS for their generosity and assistance.
Gayatri and her husband at work utilizing the solar lanterns