The client (name kept hidden to maintain client confidentiality) lives with her family of six members in a semi-urban location in Chandkheda, Ahmedabad, Gujarat (India). Before the Corona pandemic, she used to do a job of sewing clothes outside her home. She was adept in sewing and earned a monthly income of Rs. 15000. But she lost her work due to the stringent restrictions imposed during the pandemic. She had already taken a loan from Prayas before the pandemic, but she was able to repay the loan using her father’s pension. On asking about whether she faced any difficulty in repaying the loan during the pandemic, she said “Repaying the loan had never been a problem to me. My father earns a good pension amount as he worked with the Indian Railway Department. My brother is a lawyer who also earns well. So, they have always helped with the instalments. I have always maintained a good credit score. But the only thing that bothered me was loss of my job and my helplessness to repay the loan on my own. I became dependent on others for my survival.”
When the restrictions were eased, she took another loan from Prayas. She found work in a shop near her home. She considers the shop owner as her own brother, who allowed her to do work from there. She used the loan amount to buy a motored sewing machine for the shop and cloth fabric, other materials, etc. from the wholesale cloth market at Kalupur (Revdi Bazar). Since the last one and a half years since she joined the shop, her income has revived gradually and now she earns Rs. 10,000-10,500 per month. She said that though this income is not as she used to get before, she is thankful to Prayas for providing the capital to revive her business. She is confident that her business will flourish soon and will definitely earn more than what she earned before. As of now, she handles the procurement of cloth material, cutting and sewing the material into beautiful dresses and selling them from the shop. She said that earlier she had to only sew the cloth but now she has to cut it as well, which is quite new for her. With time she has gained the required ‘cutting’ skills but is slightly slower in this task than others. Apart from this, she went twice with the shop owner to procure the materials and have gained the required skills to deal with the suppliers. Moreover, she has also provided employment to another girl (around 18 years of age) in her shop who is paid based on piece-rate for sewing clothes.
She also reported an improvement in her diet after taking the loan. She, now, consumes a glass of milk every day. Moreover, she has also been able to buy a mobile phone on EMI after taking the loan. She proudly said that she has also helped her brother thrice in paying the school fees of his son. When asked about making personal savings she said that since the pandemic she has not been able to make any personal savings. Even she has to bear some medical expenses for her as she is a blood pressure patient. In the near future, she aspires to rent a shop in order to scale up her business and achieve financial independence. She has become quite active in her community and has taken the leadership for collecting the instalments of other members of the group. She also encourages other women in her community to take up self-employment-based work and teaches them to sew.
The blog is authored by Bansari Buha.