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.
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!
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.
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.