As you walk down a narrow lane, away from all the hustle and bustle of Bangalore, Parveen, a very jolly woman, emerges to greet you and welcome you into her immaculately kept home. She is accompanied by her sister in law and both of them scurry around to make sure their guests have clean chairs and a glass of fresh juice.
Parveen is a client of Grameen Koota and has taken out 2 loans, totaling 15,000 Rupees over the last 2 years, in order to grow her sari business. She sells beautiful saris from her home for as much as 5000 Rupees for each piece. She says that despite the fact that her clients tend not to be so well off they still attach a great deal of importance to their appearance and so even if they cannot afford it, will purchase the best saris she has. As she lives in a Muslim area, she is currently preparing for Ramadan, her busiest time of year. This is a month where Muslims also celebrate Eid and so will buy new outfits for the occasion. Given how expensive her saris are, she allows her customers to purchase on credit and so far she has never experienced anyone defaulting on their payments. She has great support from her family, especially her sister-in- law and brother-in-law who travel to the wholesale market to purchase her stock. Her husband is a driver but when he is not working he also helps out in the business.
She recently participated in ACCION’s Dialogue on Business Training and has seen a huge improvement in the way in which she manages her time between her business and home. She also feels she manages money better, having understood how to record her cash flows and plan for future expenditure. She is planning on expanding her product range to include artificial jewelry so that when she sells saris she is able to match jewelry to each outfit. As a longer term objective she would like to have her own shop. However at present the cost of setting this up, as well as the ongoing rent and electricity charges would be too onerous for her.
Parveen Taj is a confident lady who has all the qualities of a good salesperson. However it is ironic that despite running a successful business she still describes herself as a housewife. This is a common issue amongst many of the women who have established businesses. It will clearly take time before some women entrepreneurs are truly able to view themselves as such.