Stories of successful SC/ST Women Entrepreneurs

Hyderabad, April 23, 2019. They belong to an outclass community. They were oppressed, harassed by their caste name. They tolerated caste insults. But their journey was on. Now things have changed. Not because of anything, but they changed for themselves. They hard journey They stepped into educational institutions. They are well learned. They are progressive thinkers. They are the successful SC/ST Women Entrepreneurs.

They have all assembled in Hyderabad for a just-concluded program “Women in the Forefront”, a one full day event to promote entrepreneurship among SC/ST women. Their success stories are truly inspirational. Undeterred by the discrimination, they determined to make big.  They don't have complaints. Nor they have excuses. All they have is full of enthusiasm and determination to achieve.

They are Doppala Nirmala from Vijayawada; Saka Shailja from Karimnagar; Narra Vijalakshmi from Hyderabad; Dasari Aruna from Hyderabad and many others.

My role model is Kalpana Saroj, Chairperson of Kamini Tubes, who is described as the original "Slumdog Millionaire". She is a highly successful Dalit entrepreneur.  “I didn't want to do a traditional ladies job or get into tailoring, beauty parlor, businesses associated with women.  Instead, I stepped into NoteBook Manufacturing which is a male-dominated industry”, says Doppala Nirmala, a single mother

She established Ravindra Note Books in the year 2011 with a rupees six lakh investment. Today her company's turnover is Rs 1.2crore.  Now she is looking forward to making her industry fully automated and also foray into pharmaceuticals manufacturing formulations.  "I will invest Rs 7crore into this.  I have made my plans ready to borrow the same from banks”, she informs. Being a single mother and raising a son she has done a remarkable progress in her business. From the initial manufacturing capacity of 60,000 books per month, now she reached the capacity of manufacturing 2.4 crore notebooks per month.  She participates in government tenders and has been supplying to various departments of Government of Andhra Pradesh, Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd, Food Corporation of India, HUDCO.  I am a registered vendor in all these organizations.  she informs.  She is now providing employment to 25 technical persons and 12 women in the peak season and 15 technical persons and 3 women in the lean months. 

I was discouraged getting into it saying that it was a rough and tough and men's business.  But, I was determined, says, Nirmala, a Diploma holder in Computers.  One day while I was walking through a lane full of bookbinders in Vijayawada, It struck me the business idea, she shares.  The journey was tough.  Yet times I felt like getting crushed and wanted to get off the business. But, again when I remembered my responsibilities of raising a son, then I sincerely got into work, she shares. 

Saka Shailaja runs a successful “Roja's Industries” for the past 25years.  Starting with a beauty parlour, she added a beauty training center and a company that manufactures beauty products. She claims her turnover as Rs 5 crore.  Undeterred being in Karimnagar, a small town then (now it is developed), she made her venture very successfully.  Today she has two centers one each at Karimnagar and Sircilla.  She is going to pump in Rs 5crore to manufacture beauty products such as Handwash Liquid,, Soaps, Creams, etc. 

Getting a rental place was a problem for my beauty parlour. Nobody wants to let it out to a Dalit woman.  We faced that discrimination even today. I didn't want to bluff and take place on rent. I struggled a lot says the 45years old successful beautician. 

That is not all. She has trained 30,000 rural women in beautician course and made them small entrepreneurs on their own. The reason why I chose this was my family didn't want me to go outdoors and work. This is being an indoor job, there was no objection.  I am grateful to DICCI--Dalit Indian Chamber of Commerce and Industry which extended a helping hand.  If I take up anything, I won't rest until and unless I see its logical end.  Second is I am a totally goal oriented person.  Third, I am a big risk taker. Where there is no pain, there I no gain, she elaborates the secrets behind her success. 

For Vanajakshi Narra business is a sport.  She is the proud boss of two companies--Apna Doorstep Services Pvt Ltd; Smart Green Infra and Logistics Management India Pvt. Ltd.  Her group turnover is Rs 6 crore.  She provides employment to 325 people.  A master in Commerce, Vanajakshi is more diversified. She was in construction and then was into beautician. Now she moved into logistics.  She manages logistics of 120 sewer jetting machines for GHMC and HMWSSB introduced by Telangana Government to eliminate manual scavenging. 

These flexible machines make the process of cleaning the clogged sewage lines easier, unlike conventional machines.  At present HMWSSB is using 70 air-tech machines to clean the city's 4.7 lakh manholes. GHMC is using 50. The conventional machines couldn't be taken into narrow lanes. These machines overcome that difficulty, she says.  With these new machines, they will be able to enter narrow lanes, she informs. 

Her future plans are to get into the logistics management of Bulk LPG Supplying Tankers.  Government of India has allocated 5400 trucks to SC and ST contractors.  We will extend our services into that area, she informed

Speaking about her challenges, she said no challenge is a challenge for me. I challenge the challenge, she added.

For Dasari Aruna, a  management graduate in HR, Plastic Water Recycling is her business.  She established three companies--Ananya Greentech, Ananya Polymers and Ananya Poly Greentech.  Her foray into business began in the year 2015.  I didn't want to depend on anyone for money. I always wanted to be an independent woman. I didn't want to ask my husband money. My husband didn't want me to work under anyone.  So I got into the recycling of HDP Pipes scrap.  She is also manufactures plastic components and products such as  Curd buckets, domestic plastic products such as plastic tubs, jars, etc.  She clocks a turnover of Rs 8crore now.  Her husband, who was into Market Research has also joined her business now.  I got this idea of getting into plastics while I was traveling to Bangalore, where I saw bottles thrown everywhere.  I did a short diploma course from CPET (Central Institute of Plastics Engineering & Technology)

The imported machinery was very expensive. I began my entrepreneurial journey by outsourcing a local machine which I procured at a cost of Rs 60 lakh.  Canara Bank after so many months of hassling sanctioned Rs 48 lakh loan. The balance Rs 12 lakhs I managed by selling my marriage jewelry and taking a loan from my father.  

I was discouraged by saying that it was "Chetta"(garbage) business.  But, my response to them satisfied them.  Plastics was everywhere. And recycling was big business.  Initially, nobody believed me. Today it is a different ball game altogether. Today everyone talks about plastics recycling.  Thank god I chose it several years before it became a cause of concern for many. It is a buzz word today, she says.

She wants to expand her business further. Now she doesn't consider initial hiccups in setting up the plant as hiccups anymore.  She advises young women entrepreneurs not to give up.  Keep going until you achieve your dreams.  All problems and  joyful things are temporary.  Your persistence should be your strength, she tells them. 

Narra Ravi Kumar, National Working President of DICCI gave examples of many successful SC/ST women entrepreneurs like Kalpana Saroj, Chairperson of Kamini Tubes, who is described as the original "Slumdog Millionaire".  A daughter of a police constable, she had shattered marriage at the age of 12years.  She made an unsuccessful suicide attempt.  At 16 she moved from her village to Mumbai, the city of opportunities.  She ventured into garments, tailoring, and furniture and film production.   She built up a successful real estate business and came to be known for her contacts and entrepreneurial skills. She was on the board of Kamini Tubes when it went into liquidation in 2001, and after taking over the company, she restructured it and brought it back to profit. As per her own claim, she supposed to hold assets worth $ 112 million, he shared her inspiring story as an example to the 200 plus women entrepreneurs assembled. 

He also cited Agni Sumukh invented by a Dalit women entrepreneur. When food is cooked on the stove Agni, the ingredients inside the bowl or utensil only get heated up and not the utensil, he shared to inspire, 200 SC/ST women entrepreneurs present in the audience.

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