As you drive through the streets of Vijayanagar, a colourful residential area in north-west Bangalore, the smell of beef carcasses hits you. This is a Muslim area where a number of women have established businesses and expanded them by taking small loans from Grameen Koota, a microfinance institution (MFI). ACCION has worked with Grameen Koota by providing financial literacy training to some of their clients. We met with Mahmooda who runs Noore Fashion, a tailoring shop, to speak to her about how ACCION’s training in self management and cash management has helped her run her business more effectively.
Mahmooda is 45 years old and now employs 7 people including her husband and 2 sons. Not only does she sew sari blouses, suits and dresses but she has also now established a small factory to make bags. Her bags are sent to large cities such as Chennai where she sells over 500 bags a month.
She decided to participate in the training following her daughter’s wedding. She found herself with more time on her hands and her husband encouraged her to invest more time in growing her business. For her, the training was most useful in helping her to manage her time and prioritise, both at work and home. She was also able to pass on these skills to her sons who run her factory and as a result have implemented better processes there. Unfortunately the downside of her spending 3 days at training was that, in her absence, her workers would slack off. She then had to pay them all overtime so that they could finish the piled up orders. Despite these additional costs she still felt the training was worthwhile as she is now far more productive in her day. She has also improved her communication skills and is now better at discussing different fashion designs with her customers to encourage them to order different styles. Her record book was particularly impressive (as you can see below); every client’s order specifications are recorded in English with a sample of the material they will be using. She said that since establishing this system she hasn’t confused a single order!