Sabera Begum

Locked down, she took garment orders from locals on the phone

Sabera Begum of Bankra in West Bengal’s Howrah district was lucky that her husband had not given up his small grocery when she took her first loan from Village Financial Services in 2013 to start a ladies’ garments business.

The grocery business kept them afloat during the lockdown imposed by the government since March-end to keep the coronavirus from spreading.

But Sabera kept in touch with her customers over the phone and took orders for garments so her business did not stop completely. Now her business is bouncing back. She did not fall back in loan repayments to VFS during the lockdown. She had four women doing the machine work in her house. They are back at work.

Sabera farms out a lot of work to 30-odd women in her area.

Sabera’s husband Akhtar Sardar was not making enough money from his grocery shop to give his wife and two children the life he wanted for them. Sabera, then 32, wanted to start a business and chose readymade garments. She approached VFS and took a microfinance loan of Rs 20,000.

With her zeal and hard work, she expanded her business manifold. VFS, acknowledging her hard work, upgraded her from a group loan to a Sambriddhi customer. In August 2019, she got a loan of Rs 1,50,000 from VFS.

Sabera has an average monthly profit of around Rs 40,000 after paying for cloth and other raw materials (Rs 3,00,000) and labour (Rs 1,00,000).

Her husband, meanwhile, also sells ice-cream, cold drinks and snacks, having expanded his grocery business.

Their two sons are now 19 and 18.

Updated on Sep 2, 2020