Anjana Roy

Adding ice cream paid off, but location helped survive lockdown

During a lockdown, what you make or sell is important, but location can be a multiplier. Anjana Roy, 45, a resident of Mourigram-Duliya in Howrah district, has been a customer of Village Financial Services on and off for nearly 18 years now, having taken her first microfinance loan in 2002.

She began with a tea stall, then started selling cold-drinks, ice cream and confectionery. Her shop is next to a big hospital, a railway station, a factory and an oil depot.

Her husband Biswanath, 50, used to work for a private company that made parts for Indian Railways, but had to quit because of health issues. Biswanath then got Anjana, who is illiterate, to borrow Rs 2,000 from VFS to start their own tea shop on a small plot they had. The business was doing well, but the profit margin was not much.

They got their two sons educated. The eldest, 29, is a driver with Indian Oil Company, which has a big depot nearby. He could not complete his graduation.

The younger son, 24, is in the 2nd year of a Bachelor of Arts course. He was working on the side as a salesman at an ice-cream and cold drinks dealer. When the dealership shut down in 2019, the younger son urged his mother to extend the tea stall and used his contacts to add cold drinks, ice-cream as well as mineral water, biscuits, tiffin cakes and so on.

This started doing well. Anjana then decided to build a proper shop and invested nearly Rs 600,000 by clubbing her son’s savings with loans from VFS and two other MFIs. The new, expanded shop started yielding a good profit as they could afford to buy in bulk. Now, Anjana earns a monthly profit of Rs 5000 from the tea shop and Rs 25,000 from the “stationery” business.

The COVID-19 lockdown did not affect her business much since her shop is on Mourigram Station Road next to Disha Eye Hospital. Mourigram Station and Allana Slaughter House are also nearby. They had had plenty of customers. There are other tea stalls, but Anjana’s is the largest in that area. Anjana’s shop remains open from 5am to 9pm.

Anjana says all this would not have been possible without the financial help and guidance of VFS. She wants to renovate and expand the shop to expand the business. She currently has a loan of Rs 50,000 with VFS.

Anjana has been regular with her loan repayments to VFS during the lockdown.

Published on Aug 31, 2020