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On home turf

Gopa Banerjee

She was a computer programmer before family obligations made her quit. But Gopa always wanted a place under the sun. And she loved to dress up. Today, she is a representative of a cosmetics major, earning in five figures, making the occasional foreign trip and helping many others find a source of livelihood.

It all started in 1999 with Gopa spotting an advertisement of a beauty company. Three things attracted her to the job — zero investment, flexible hours and a chance to be a part of the beauty industry.

“I invest an hour each day from my leisure time for the work, which includes making new contacts, keeping in touch with regular customers, being updated about the latest products and keeping track of new trends in make-up and skin care,” says Gopa.

Incentive-based targets set by the company are a challenge but Gopa takes it in her stride. “After all, everyone likes to buy cosmetics,” she smiles. “And I feel great about the money I make,” adds Gopa.

Dipannita Bhatia

B-school grads could learn a thing or two about marketing from Dipannita Bhatia. No, she isn’t the next Indra Nooyi in the making. But she has the likes of LG, Whirlpool and Samsung vying for her time.

Dipannita moved to Calcutta over a decade back. With a kid at home, going out to work wasn’t on her agenda. Cooking, baking, food decoration and all things culinary were her forte, but what set her apart was her knowledge of microwave cooking.

“I wrote to the top boss of IFB, one of the two companies selling microwave ovens in Calcutta back then, explaining that it’s not enough to sell the ovens; someone needs to teach the customer how to use it. The next day, I got a call from IFB,” recalls the chef. Other companies simply followed suit.

Dipannita has a tie-up with almost every microwave company worth its table salt. The customer gets a class free after buying a microwave. Her investment was nil as the companies provide her with the machines. She also teaches ice-cream making, tandoori and chinese and continental cuisine. Dipannita makes some Rs 35,000 a month and enjoys the independence and confidence her work gives her.

Bratati Das

Bratati or Bunty is a bubbly mother-of-two who turned her interest in clothes and decoration into a lucrative business of selling saris, salwar suits, kurtis, bedcovers, curtains and cushion covers.

“With two riotous kids at home, joining a job would have been difficult, but I wanted to do something meaningful,” says Bunty. Having lived in Lucknow, she was familiar with embroidery and chikan work. Today, she sells gadwals from Hyderabad, chikan from Lucknow, readymade garments from Delhi and silk from Bishnupur.

She started three years back with an investment of Rs 25,000. With help and support from friends and family, her client base grew quickly and today, she makes around Rs 10,000 a month. “My customers often want specific designs and motifs. Being able to deliver to their satisfaction makes me very happy,” says Bunty.

Santa Basu

“I love cooking,” is the first thing Santa says about herself. It’s this interest that led her to start a catering service at home, delivering home-cooked food to households and offices. She soon started rustling up snacks and tiffin and taking party orders.

Today she employs 10 women and delivery boys and makes between Rs 15,000 to 20,000 a month. “I started with just Rs 500 and never imagined I would be able to do roaring business,” says Shanta.

“The best part about my work is that I earn while doing something I love,” says Santa. Not many can say that about their jobs!

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