Pan and Cutlery Shop

img_003Pan and Cutlery Shop, Pandurangwadi Leprosy Colony, University Campus, Amravati, Maharashtra

Dependent primarily on a paltry pension and menial labor for survival, this group of four women and two men from Pandurangwadi, a leprosy colony located within Amravati University Campus, Maharashtra accepted assistance from S-ILF to take on the challenge of earning a living for hemselves. They agreed to share the funds provided by S-ILF in half to initiate two different livelihood projects. The women planned to sell cutlery and the men aspired to sell household items. Initially the group leaders attended S-ILF-run training programs to learn about business planning, financial dealing etc. as they had no prior experience in running a business.

Today, Godavari Parshetti, ShailaThadkar, Sasikala and Pramila Chinche run a successful sari and cloth material business, meeting the growing demands of the neighborhood and nearby villages.

Their initial plan to sell cutlery did not take off as finding a shop they could afford was not feasible, given the costs involved. With their determination and entrepreneurial spirit they came up with the option of door-to-door selling. They learnt quickly that there was a larger market for saris and cloth than for cutlery if they were to sell door-to-door. Having established a customer base, today these women buy saris and cloth material from the local wholesale market (approximately INR 10,000-20,000 at a time) and sell them going door-to-door. These women are respected in the community and customers now visit their homes to buy. They have invested in a steel cupboard to store the materials safely. Every 15 days, the women take stock of their funds and each one of them receives about INR 400-1000 based on the season. Usually during the Diwali and marriage season, the demand increases. The group members work for 3-4 hours a day for about 2-3 days a week. The group provides a loan option to their customers and collects the money over 2-7 months depending on the situation. The price range of their wares varies from INR 150-900. Saris are always in high demand. The women also cater to young girls and work constantly to meet the demands of the market. Their business acumen is praise worthy particularly in this regard. Today these women exude confidence and effective interpersonal skills, not to mention exemplary resilience (having shown the courage to step out of their colonies to sell in near-by areas). This newly-found sense of independence and self-worth is one that they cherish! They wish they had discovered this path earlier in their lives.

After an initial struggle to gauge the market needs following a disillusioning start with sale of household items, Mohan Parsuram and Ramarao Ramkrishna decided to revive and expand their already existing, but sick pan shop instead. With funding from S-ILF they invested in a hard iron booth and had it painted in catchy colors. They began selling with renewed fervor and now stock better and higher selling items. Open from 8 AM to 10 PM every day, today the shop makes a sale of about INR 2500-3000 a day and both the group members make about INR 250 or more a day despite a monthly tax to the Amaravati Nagar Palika. Having reestablished their shop, Mohan and Ramarao now plan to expand in order to diversify and sell other items including stationary items; and invest in a photocopy facility. The pan shop is led by Mohan and the women’s business by Shila Thadkar. The joint group accounts are maintained by Mohan.