Tagline: Stitching a new identity for herself
Archana Sole who lives in Chakan village of Pune district in Maharashtra, has been associated with Chaitanya, Pune for the past 11 years and is a member of Saraswati Mahila Sangh (Self Help Group - SHG). She is also a Padhadhikari (official) of the Federation promoted by Chaitanya. She got married in the year 2003 and was living a happy married life in a joint family of 13 members. In a sad turn of events, she lost her husband in the year 2011 and her widowhood made her a pariah in the conservative community she was married into.
With perseverance and courage, Archana turned her fate around and carved a new identity for herself as a tailoring master in her village and set-up a small scale tailoring business. She bought two sewing machines worth Rs. 2, 500 and Rs. 5, 000 each by taking a loan from bachat gath (savings group) and repaid the loan within one year. Later, her association with the Mahila Sangh encouraged her to pursue her undergraduate degree that was left incomplete post her marriage; she graduated in the year 2016.
During the initial phase of her business, she charged a meager amount of INR 500 for imparting the training to other village women who wanted to learn tailoring. Steadily, she built a strong customer base in her locality and due to her superior quality of work, she increased her garment stitching charges to Rs. 700. Archana’s tailoring skills and marketing strategies improved her business, resulting in a monthly income of INR 15,000. Whenever she receives a bigger order, especially during the wedding season, she outsources part of the work to the community members. This planned strategy helps her to fulfill her business commitments on time as well as increase her income to Rs. 25,000 – Rs. 30,000 per month.
Like any entrepreneur, she too faced many obstacles to run her business. One of the challenges she faced was of delayed delivery of raw material coupled with higher rates. The members of her group provided her information about a wholesale market located in Pimpari village, where all the tailoring material could be purchased in bulk at a discounted rate. This guidance helped her to reduce her cost of production, thus leading to increase in profit margins.
To enhance the business management skills of their women members, Chaitanya identified Archana for participating in the Business Management Skill training undertaken by Friends of Women’s World Banking (FWWB) conducted on 25th - 26th May 2017. During the training, she learned about the various business management aspects essential for running a business effectively and efficiently. She shared, “The session on preparing the business plan of our own business gave me a lot of insights about the details I overlooked earlier. These lessons will enable me to plan better for my business activity. Also, the session on the importance of digital banking brought to my knowledge the convenience we get by using ATMs while withdrawing money.”
Working as a leader and team manager with Chaitanya, Archana feels empowered as she also enables other community women to strive towards improving their social and economic status. She proudly stated, “I not only train women to be tailors but also contribute towards creating a cadre of financially independent women.”