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...

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...

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 ...

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...

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 Bisw...

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 ...

Latika Das

How a single mom scaled up batik business

For Latika Das, a self-made business woman, Village Financial Services was a lifesaver in 2020, when a loan allowed her to continue batik printing even though markets were shut. Latika, 48 and illiterate, had started with a capital of Rs 40,000 about six years ago—mainly he...

Chandra Maya Subba

Loan helps her go the whole hog

Pigs are actually very clean creatures if one keeps them in clean surroundings: The way Chandra Maya Subba does at her pigsty in Rangpo Forest Village in West Bengal’s Kalimpong district. (If you see pigs wallowing in mud, they are just trying to keep cool since they don’t hav...

Noorjahan

Selling jaggery is a sweet business for this family

For Noorjahan, 38, winter is the busiest season: she sells gur or jaggery in her village in Saharanpur district of Uttar Pradesh. Sugar harvest over, winter is the time when gur production is at its peak. Noorjahan stays at her house in Niyampatpur village...

Sunita Dobhal

She wouldn’t let her late husband’s venture die

Sunita Dobhal and her husband Jagadish used to have a bag manufacturing set-up in their house in Bhajangad village in Rishikesh, Uttarakhand. But when Jagadish died five years ago, Sunita had to struggle to keep the “factory” going, even though she had been taking part in the ...

Satyabhama Sahoo

When a loan helped an entrepreneur expand

Satyabhama Sahoo is an award-winning terracotta craftsperson in Haldharpur village of Odisha’s Keonjhar district. The village is known for its terracotta work, with almost all families involved in some way. Satyabhama, 40, and her husband Taranisen, 42, have been in the busine...

Monalisha Patra

Woodworking hobbyist turns pro

Monalisha Patra, 36, was unstoppable once she learnt that her hobby could help her make some money. The mother of two, is a resident of Dahigora village in Jharkhand’s East Singbhum district, liked to make decorative items from wood to pass time. One day, she heard about a cen...

Riya Kar

A metal-stamping entrepreneur at 23

Riya Kar likes being on the fast track: She got married in 2013 even before clearing her higher secondary examination, prodded her husband Somnath to set up his own metal stamping and cutting workshop instead of working for others, then had a baby once the business stabilized....

Kalpana Subba

How a casual idea paid off during lockdown

Like most of us back in end-2019, Kalpana Subba had no idea that a prolonged lockdown was ahead. She simply thought her customers would be better served if she expanded her shop’s range. Kalpana, 38, runs a fruit stall set up by her mother-in-law 35 years ago in Lalbazar, S...

Satila Boro

Meghalaya woman keeps mekhela weaving alive

Satila Boro, 45, is another VFS customer who creates direct employment and is an important cog of the Indian economy in her own way. A resident of Kadamshali village in Meghalaya’s West Garo Hills district, Satila has been weaving mekhela chadors and gamchas for 20 years now, ...

Pramila Soni

From beauty parlour to sari shop: a big step up

Four years ago, Pramila Soni, 40, was running a beauty parlour in her home. It kept her busy, but the income was small, and she needed more funds to send her sons to colleges of their choice. She had not gone to college, having dropped out after Class 12, and she was determine...

Palakhi Talukdar

For Nalbari woman, her hotel is her labour of love

Love, location and labour: keywords for Palakhi, 33, of Japarkuchi in Assam’s Nalbari. Palakhi had dropped out of school after Class 10. Then, just out of her teens, love happened. She married John Talukdar. John inherited his father’s paan shop opposite Nalbari College in Nal...

Kisa Yadav

A loan in a crisis helped dairy woman grow

Kisa Yadav’s story shows how VFS can be a godsend in times of trouble. Kisa had married into a milkman’s family. Her husband took over his father’s business ten years ago. Things were going fine till 2018 when he injured his leg in an accident. The medical bills for the extend...

Mithu Das

Middle-age blues drew her into mushrooms

Mithu Das, 44, was an ordinary housewife till she decided to attend a workshop on growing mushrooms. Her husband Tapan, 49, is a teacher in a government school and she did not have any compulsion to earn more. They have their own house in Kaliagharh area of Jirat town in West ...

Mamta Bai

Kirana plus atta chakki save the day for MP woman

Mamta Bai, 47, is the proud owner of a kirana or convenience store, and an atta chakki, in Navi Bagh near Madhya Pradesh’s capital Bhopal. She has taken a loan of Rs 40,000 and is now in her 4th cycle, which began in March this year. She had almost nothing before she set up...

Khalda

How Khalda took on flash floods, lockdown

The COVID-19 lockdown was the second crisis in the life of Khalda, 40, and her family. She had been leading a comfortable life till the June 2013 floods in Rishikesh washed away her husband’s business in Gujjar Plot village and he had to switch from being a roadside car mecha...

Gita Santra

Sequin business yet to get back its glitter

Gita Santra, 41, who had taken her first loan from Village Financial Services in 2015, faced a significant setback in her business when the government announced the lockdown on March 24, 2020. Her sequin- and zari-stitching business, in which she had employed 10 part-time w...

Mousumi Das

Assembling toys from parts fetches her good money

Mousumi Das, 38, had one business failure ten years ago. She was determined not to let the coronavirus lockdown cause the second one: scores of workers depended on her this time. In 2010, her sari business failed, leaving her with debts. Her first son had just begun school ...

Sahanara Sardar

Her savings habit helped her survive lockdown blow

Sahanara Sardar is thanking her savings habit for surviving the lockdown hit on her readymade garments business: She managed to clear her repayments. Sahanara, who has been a customer of Village Financial Services for 16 years, has applied for a fresh loan after having just...