VFS microfinance customer at her garments shop

Antara Majumder

Bengal woman makes it big with garments shop

Antara Majumder, 39 is in a safe business: readymade garments. Better still, her shop is the only one selling garments in Mondalpara in West Bengal’s North 24 Parganas district. Antara first business was with her husband Biswajit, 48, who is a supplier of poultry to retaile...

VFS microfinance customer at readymade garments unit

Dipa Das

Bengal woman does Facebook Live to keep sales going

When Dipa Das and her readymade garments business ran into the COVID19 lockdown in 2020, she was staring at an abyss till her younger daughter-in-law showed her the magic of selling on Facebook Live. Dipa’s sales recovered. For people like Dipa, the Facebook Live pitch is s...

VFS microfinance customer with medicine distributor business

Bilquis Ara

The go-to person for vet drugs in Kamarhati

Kamarhati residents with ailing dogs or cats probably turn up at the shop run by Bilquis Ara, 38. They must: Bilquis says she has been in the business for ten years and is the only one in the area focused on veterinary medicines. Bilquis first visited the Village Financial ...

VFS microfinance borrower at her grocery

China Dutta

Birbhum woman starts a new life in middle age

China Dutta is one of those microfinance customers who turn entrepreneurs at an age when most women sit back after running a household and bringing up children. China, 55, has had a tough childhood: she was one of nine children of poor parents. She had to quit school after ...

VFS microfinance borrower with plastics machine

Debika Adak

From plastic streamers to toy cars, her range is growing

When Debika Adak got married 14 years ago, she was just out of her teens, armed with a Class 10 school certificate. She began helping her husband Arup with his tiny plastics manufacturing unit in Pancharul, West Bengal. The business was then just a year old and Arup had sta...

VFS microfinance customer at her shop

Monika Adhikary

She stocks a diverse range, but makes money

Don’t put all your eggs in one basket, the idiom goes. Monika Adhikary, a resident of Thanamakua in West Bengal’s Howrah district, followed this instinctively. She began with two diverse businesses long before the COVID19 pandemic and the lockdowns triggered by it showed the i...

Village microfinance customer at her grocery

Viro Devi

With children in school, mom turns grocer

Viro Devi’s husband Deepak helped her build her dream—he is a part-time mason and did the brickwork for the shop that Viro opened when she chose to become a grocer. Village Financial Services helped, with the initial loan to stock the shop. Viro was already a mother of two ...

Tripura tribal woman weaving bridal wear

Gunjali Tripura

Tripura woman chooses to be her boss

Gunjali Tripura, 30, dropped out of school after Class 10 and then broke the usual rural tradition of getting married or being married off. Instead, she has become a weaver, making wedding dresses for tribals. After completing Class 10, Gunjali, a resident of Sachiram Bari ...

VFS microfinance customer with rubber sheets

Sumita Deb Barma

Tripura woman finds secure income in rubber sheets

Sumita Deb Barma is unlikely to ever figure on any list of top businesswomen or entrepreneurs. But the world cannot do without the millions of women and men like her: 90 per cent of the world’s natural rubber production comes from smallholder farmers like Sumita. And, despite ...

VFS microfinance customer at her tailoring shop

Nasima Bibi

Class 8 dropout employs 3 at her business

Not all Indians buy clothes online or as readymade apparel. Most still depend on the neighbourhood tailor: they get to choose their fabric and the fit and it’s cheaper. That’s why women like Nasima Bibi of Tarakeswar in West Bengal’s Hooghly district can run a thriving busines...

VFS customer at her tea stall

Debi Rani Barman

Bengal woman shows how hard work pays

If you happen to drive to Balurghat, headquarters of West Bengal’s South Dinajpur district, halt for a cup of tea and bakery biscuits at Patiram. Debi Rani Barman’s tea shop is popular with drivers of long-distance buses, trucks and others halting near Taltala More petrol pump...

VFS customer with readymade garments

Indrani Maity

Bengal mom makes a living selling garments door to door

Indrani Maity is good at reading the pulse of her customers: when she returns home in the evening, her large bag of readymade garments is much lighter than it was in the morning when she set out with it. For her immediate neighbourhood, she walks. For longer distances, she use...

VFS microfinance customer making household chemicals

Piyali Deb

Uluberia woman is a success at mixing chemicals

Piyali Deb’s tale is just what Village Financial Services hopes to weave every time it lends to an enterprising woman: she has put her two sons through college while running a business in making household chemicals. Piyali, 43, married to Shibhankar Deb for 24 years, starte...

Poonam Kaur

Adversity made Poonam Kaur a real entrepreneur

Poonam Kaur, 34, is an unusual customer of Village Financial Services: She is a graduate with a B.Ed degree when most borrowers have barely completed school. Poonam, a resident of Sonar Patti village in Bihar’s Kishanganj district, had to move up the entrepreneurship ladder...

Anusaya Nath

Living with Mother Durga the year-round

Anusaya Nath lives with Mother Durga every day, not just during the Durga Puja festival. Pass by her house in Fakirpur village of Odisha’s Keonjhar district, and you get the lovely smell of bread baking from seven in the morning to six in the evening. Joy Maa Durga is the b...

Sunita Bai Malviya

Furniture is fine, but brick mould is best-seller

Sunita Bai Malviya, 50, had been making wooden furniture and special items with her husband Ram Mohan for over two decades before she turned to Village Financial Services for a loan to scale up the business. The VFS branch, in their town of Pipariya in Hoshangabad district of ...

Sumitra Debi Pandit

Clay dolls are good business, with bhars as backup

For Sumitra, there was no culture clash when she got married to Chandra Shekhar Pandit 20 years ago: Both were from the potter clan of Kumbhakars. Her husband’s family, residents of Panchudanga in the Adra area of West Bengal’s Purulia district, made terracotta bhars or...

Mamani Adhikari

Award-winning pickle-maker fights back

You won’t find Mamani Adhikari’s pickles in supermarkets or online, but they are a steal at Rs 50 for a 250gm bottle. Try haats or village markets, fairs and shops in West Bengal’s Coochbehar district. Look for the Priyotama Aachar brand. Mamani, 29, is a veteran p...

VFS microfinance customer with her handloom

Jonali Talukdar

3 kids in school, Assam woman begins 2nd life at 39

Jonali Talukdar of Ghatbar village in Assam’s Barpeta district was married for 18 years and a mother of three school-going children when she decided the family needed a second income stream. Her carpenter husband Buddhadeb was doing his best, but that was not enough. Jonali...

VFS microfinance customer making traditional snacks

Rina Saha

Traditional snacks sell well in remote areas

Rina Saha decided to become an entrepreneur late in life, when she was 43, after bringing up two children and marrying off the daughter, 19. Rina had dropped out of school after Class 7 when her family got her married off to a boy just out of his teens, so she did not have muc...

VFS microfinance customer with a bundle of straw

Bula Manna

Many buffaloes for her home-delivery ‘food’ service

Bula Manna, 41, is one vital link in the food chain that keeps cows and buffaloes well fed: She buys straw from farmers in rural areas and bundles them for sale to buffalo dairy owners near urban centres. A resident of Tarakeswar in West Bengal’s Hooghly district, Bula was ...

VFS microfinance borrower weaving bamboo basket

Basanti Jena

Keeping alive the bamboo-work tradition

In a world beset by plastic pollution, the likes of Basanti Jena hold out some hope. Basanti, 35, of Khageswarpur in Odisha’s Baleswar district, makes bamboo baskets used in rural areas by fishmongers, vegetable sellers, grocers and even householders. Basanti, who was marri...

VFS microfinance customer at her plant nursery

Rina Khatun

Nursery owner could find herself selling cut-flowers

Forced to stay at home by the COVID19 lockdowns, many urban dwellers have found solace in their balcony gardens. So plant nurseries, exempted from lockdown restrictions, should be doing great business, right? Wrong. If the nursery is far from the buyers and customers can’t ...

Champa Biswas

In just 4 hours, a saree painted with birds or flowers

As a teenager, all Champa Biswas needed was some fabric paint, a few brushes and some cloth to give play to her imagination. A pastime she picked up from a neighbour soon became a hobby. Champa had to drop out of school after Class 8. When she got married to Buddhadeb Biswa...

Krishna Bhagabati

How an accident made her an entrepreneur

Krishna Bhagabati, 33, had to become an entrepreneur to enable her family to survive. When husband Sashindra Sharma met with an accident in 2016, a long period in hospitals left the family without any savings. Sashindra lost his job. Sashindra became suicidal. Not so ...

Keka Paul

No gender issues for her on the income front

The five-year-old has simple tastes—her parents make a range of lovely soft toys for a living, but she prefers a teddy bear. Not a “Papri” doll (which is a desi version of a Barbie). Not a cute puppy. Not a Kashmir doll. Just a teddy! Suchibrata, 45, and his sister...

Chaitali Chokroborty

Some businesses have risky ingredients

In Chaitali Chokroborty’s business, a moment of carelessness can kill. And she says there have been some close shaves, once when acid splashed on her husband. Chaitali, 35, has been bottling hydrochloric acid and phenyl and packaging bleaching powder since 2003. When Chaita...

Falguni Hazra

How ornamental fish gave her an income

Four years ago, Falguni Hazra did not know she was getting into a thriving industry when her son made her invest in rearing ornamental fish. Today, the woman who had no income of her own earns a profit of Rs 25,000-30,000 a month. Dasnagar in Howrah is one of the largest wh...

Kiran Karmakar

People still need pitchers to fetch drinking water

Kiran Karmakar manufactures something every village household needs: metal pitchers. Piped drinking water is still a dream in many areas. Mahajans from Calcutta supply her metal sheets and headpieces, and she completes them into pitchers using simple machinery and some welding...

Sikha Nag Das

Casting light on darkness with her candles

Sikha Nag Das, 47, started making candles when she found a good profit in the business in her state. A resident of East Kolabaria village in Tripura, Sikha took a loan from the Belonia branch of Village Financial Services around two years ago to expand her business and to buy ...