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A sewing machine really can make a difference

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Ever heard the example about the enterprising woman who used her small loan to buy a sewing machine and was then able to increase her income exponentially? Well, I had heard it too, but it wasn’t until I met Praveentaj – an entrepreneur from the outskirts of Bangalore, India, who has been embroidering various clothing items for 17 years – that I realized that microfinance can indeed work the way the fairytales say.

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Through the Dialogue on Business program at Accion, Praveentaj was encouraged to increase her services and production as a way to increase her revenue and income. So, she decided to invest in a sewing machine as well as implement a tailoring component into her business. Quite a change from how she was working before — all by hand!

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Since graduating from the DOB program, Praveentaj’s production and revenue have doubled! Most of her income is spent supporting her family of eight, who all live together in their one-bedroom home. As you can see below, her family members are all very proud of her work and had no problem helping Praveentaj show it off.

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Here, Praveentaj is proudly holding a beautifully detailed Sari that she embroidered for one of her customers. In Hindi the word “Sari” means “Strip of cloth”. But just a strip of cloth they are not! This traditional clothing of India comes in so many different shades and patterns — three months in India and I did not see the same Sari twice! It is worn wrapped around the waist, with one end draped over the shoulder, which sometimes exposes a bare midriff.

While I was visiting Praveentaj and her proud family, at some point I had mentioned the word Mehndi (also known as Henna) and Praveentaj’s oldest daughter’s ears perked.  Within minutes she had returned from the local market, Mehndi in hand, a smile on her face, and a hand gesture that signaled, “Come, sit.” One empty Menhdi tube later and I couldn’t stop staring at her intricate creation in awe — and continued to do so the whole two hour bus ride back home.

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2 thoughts on “A sewing machine really can make a difference

  1. Pingback: What do cashews, lab work and floor mats have in common? « Accion Ambassadors Blog

  2. Pingback: The stuff that doesn’t get lost in translation « Accion Ambassadors Blog

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