"To start a business you don't need to be highly educated, but you certainly need to be interested in the work that you are going to do". This is the statement of Geeta Devi, a simple house wife from village Bhatoli in Chamoli district of Uttarakhand who has studied only till class 5. Despite this handicap, she is now a successful entrepreneur and earns between 3500 to 4000 rupees per month.
What motivated Geeta Devi into becoming a successful entrepreneur were the circumstances that she found herself in. With seven members in the family - she, her husband, 3 daughters and 2 sons - and only one earning member, her husband Darwan Lal, who worked as construction worker, it had become extremely difficult to make both ends meet.Darwan Lal managed to earn a measly sum of only Rupees three thousand every month.
Besides this there was no other source of income. The family lived in a small kuchha house with two rooms and a kitchen. They had a small kitchen garden which catered to the family's needs,an ox and a cow - which helped to meet the family's milk requirement. Apart from this, Geeta sometimes used to stitch people's torn and old clothes in her free time for a paltry sum of money.
As destiny would have it one day, an NGO called Udyogini organized a programme in Geeta's village. As part of the programme the villagers were provided with information about an entrepreneurship and skill development training programme that was going to be conducted with the financial support of Dehradun based organization, "The Hans Foundation". Geeta Devi registered for the programme and took up sewing as the skill that she wanted to develop as it was something that interested her. She received 60 days training in sewing.
During the training, Geeta Devi felt that the clothes that she was stitching did not have the required finessethat she would have liked to see. The other problem was that there was only one sewing machine available for every two participants in the training.
Just 15 days into the training Geeta Devi thought that if she gets training on her own sewing machine, she would be able tolearnfaster as she was alsovery keen to make this skill her means of livelihood. With this thought in mind, she dug into her savings and with some financial help from her brother, bought a new sewing machine. After that the qualityand neatness began to show in her sewing.Shethen decided to approach the women who lived nearby to stitch clothes for them. Geetastartedto do tailoring work from home and the demand for sewing clothes began to rise at a steady pace.
When the demand went up, she decided to open a shop. She rented a small shop in the market place and with the support of her husband and brother set up the shop with the necessary infrastructure required in a tailoring shop. To be able to manage the finances required in setting up the shop Geeta had to sell her ox and take yet another loan from her brother, plus she had earned some money from stitching clothes for the village women.
After opening the shop, Geeta Devi received a number of orders to stitch suits, saree blouses and petticoats. Through her hard work and consistent efforts, Geeta Devi has not only been able to improve the economic condition of her house, but has also become more confident in dealing with people.
When her husband DarwanLal was asked about the change in life after Geeta Devi took up tailoring, he says, "Earlier the responsibility of the entire house was on me alone. It was difficult to run the house without getting a job, but because of Geetanow there is a little support.If I do not get any work, it doesn't bother me as much as it would have earlier. I am proud that Geeta has been able to do something of her choice and also earn money".
Sateshwari Devi, one of the many ladies who gets her clothes stitched from Geeta says, "Geeta stitches very well and because she is also a woman I don't feel hesitant to go to her to get my clothes stitched"
Another customer Roshni Devi says, "There is a lot of neatness and finesse in the clothes stitched by Geeta, she gives a good fitting and provides new designs also, so I like to give my clothes to her for stitching."
When Geeta was asked whether she is happy and satisfied with her work, she said, "During the training, I was able to come out of my house and interact with more and more learned people.
Because of this work I have been able to realize my own potential and now I will not stop at just running a tailoring shop. I will expand my business gradually by stitching children's clothes, keeping other items required by women and children in the shop.
After that I will start a sewing center so that our village girls can also get training in sewing.If you have the talent, then learning a skillis beneficial as it comes to your aid in bad times and if you are hardworking then no one can stop you from succeeding. I would like to thank Udyogini and the Hans Foundation who gave me this opportunity".
Geeta Devi has proved that hard work, perseverance and the will to succeed are all you need to pursue your dreams.
The views expressed in the above article are that of Saraswati Agarwal of Charkha Features.