From a farm labourer to an entrepreneur
By Pramod Bhosle
She is illiterate and born in poor conditions, but 50-year-old Kamal Shankar Pardeshi overcame these impediments and, today, is a successful entrepreneur.
In order to earn a livelihood, Pardeshi had to work as a farm labourer which fetched her merely Rs 20 daily. But, then, even this income was irregular.
To augment her income, Pardeshi decided to prepare and sell "masale (mixture of spices)". Indian food would be rendered tasteless if cooked without the use of "masale" and it would be a difficult task to find an Indian home that does not use spices. So, Pardeshi's venture, on paper at least, had all the ingredients to succeed. But, then, Pardeshi had to contend with competition and, besides, she had no marketing skills.
Undeterred by these obstacles, Pardeshi got herself a "khalbatta (manual grinder)" on hire and launched her enterprise. Four to five other women from her village had joined Pardeshi and between them, they could produce five to ten kilograms of the "masale" daily but, then, there were no takers for their product.
"It used to take over a month to sell off our produce and besides, most often, we did not receive the cash immediately," recalls Pardeshi.
Pardeshi and her colleagues launched a self help group by the name of "Ambika" and decided to spare Rs 100 every month and deposit the same in a bank. The bank manager, impressed by their sincerity, offered to extend a loan of Rs 10,000. It was the same bank, located in her village in Daund taluka of Pune district, which Pardeshi used to frequent to sell the "masale" among the employees.
The loan amount was utilized to purchase an automatic grinder, and this helped in boosting the business.
Subsequently, Pardeshi and her group received a huge order worth Rs 260,000 from Big Bazaar, a chain of hypermarkets in India. Since then, there has been no looking back for Ambika Women's Industrial Cooperative, an organization which Pardeshi set up in 2004-2005.
Pardeshi managed to secure a bigger loan from the bank, half of which she has already repaid. They now have a shed to make their products and have purchased grinders and other equipment. The organization today employs around 100 rural women who are assured of a daily income between Rs 70 to 100.
The Ambika Women's Industrial Cooperative has acquired 20 "gunthas (one guntha is 1089 square feet)" of land in Pune district where it plans to set up a full-fledged production unit at a total cost of Rs 70 million.