A group of woman entrepreneurs in the capital has struck a balance between home and work to carve out their own path to achieve success.
Pushpa Chopra, Sunita Prakash, Menka Sinha and Mithu Das Gupta have not only earned a name for themselves in the city and outside Bihar with their business acumen, a few of them have also helped other women become self-dependent. The group is no less enterprising than Kiran Mazumdar Shaw, the Biocon chairperson and managing director, or Chanda Kochhar, the chief executive officer of ICICI Bank.
The veteran among the Patna quartet is Pushpa Chopra (69). The founder-cum-chairperson of Bihar Mahila Udyog Sangh started Chopra Udyog, a textile designing centre, in 1975 with Rs 20,000 from her husband. Now, she sells Rs 1 lakh worth of home furnishing products with appliqué work every month.
Pushpa’s road to success was not smooth. She remembers the time when she could manage to sell only one or two bed sheets a month. “Initially I did not make a good profit. I visited my friends and showed them my products. They liked my work and helped me spread my business. Every time they met new people, especially women, they would introduce them to my work,” she said. Today, her products have reached Durgapur in Bengal, Mumbai, Dehradun, Nagpur and Ahmedabad.
Over the years, she has helped more than 500 women become self-dependent. Now, around 70 women from remote villages are associated with Chopra Udyog and are earning Rs 1,500 to Rs 2,000 every month from stitching work.
But if you thought that financial independence and a tight schedule kept the 69-year-old entrepreneur away from home, think again. “My family has been my priority. I used to finish all my household work before 10pm so that I was free to work on my designs at night. I used to give 3-4 hours to designing every night,” she said.
Appreciation for her commitment has come Pushpa’s way from the business community too. The Bihar Mahila Udyog Sangh founder has received several awards over the years. In 2010, Indian Merchants’ Chamber Ladies’ Wing, Mumbai, gave her the Janaki Devi Bajaj Award. This Teachers’ Day, Pushpa received the Priyadarshini Award for understanding women entrepreneurs from the Federation of Indian Women Entrepreneurs, New Delhi.
To Pushpa’s home furnishings is Sunita Prakash’s name in the textile design sector. The 44-year-old made inroads into the India International Trade Fair in 2009 and participated in at least five international trade fairs. “I started Bandhni, a textile design centre in Patna, in 2006. Block printing, hand painting, batik work are some of our specialities,” she said.
Sunita’s will for business has been long-standing. “Since my college days, I was determined to do something in my life. But my early marriage did not give me chance to explore my opportunities to work. After my daughter was born, I decided to first take care of my baby. When my daughter was in Class VI, I thought it was the right time to start my business and opened my centre in 2006,” she said.
From a start-up with Rs 15,000, Sunita has an annual turnover of around Rs 3 lakh now. Among her clients are state art, culture and youth affairs minister Sukhda Pandey and IAS officer N. Vijayalakshmi, the former managing director of Women Development Corporation, Bihar.
Mithu Das Gupta, 53, a member of Bihar Mahila Udyog Sangh, has also made a name by selling handloom products from south India and Odisha. She started her business with Rs 5,000 and now enjoys an annual turnover of around Rs 6 lakh. Passion, she said, has brought her to the present day. “Anyone can be successful if they have a passion for work. I owe my success to hard work and family support,” said Mithu, who works from home.
Family responsibilities have a big role in her life and she never neglects them.
“My mother-in-law is old and I have a big family to take care of. So I did not want to work from outside home and when someone in the family suggested I start a business, I liked the idea a lot. I did not waste much time to implement it and started work in 1993. I feel much empowered now, contributing to my family expenses. It gives me great satisfaction,” she said.
If the trio of Pushpa, Sunita and Mithu have spread their skills in and around the home, Menka Sinha has taken a different path to success.
Menka started her beauty salon, Make-up, in 1988. She did not stop there but went ahead to train girls to become beauticians over the past 24 years. Earning around Rs 20,000 every month, Menka enjoys an annual turnover of over Rs 2 lakh. But for her, achievement lies in helping her girls. “My parlour has trained more than 500 girls till now. I am quite satisfied with my income and it is an achievement for me that I have helped so many girls to become self-dependent.”