Clutching the fingers of a four-year-old toddler with one hand, while fixing her burqa with the other, 28-year-old Tabassum Bano looks meek and docile. However, her eyes shine with a dream to see her children excel in education and career. And, so, Bano decided to go against the stereotype around working women and learned to drive an auto to add to the income of her family.
“I have two income sources – I drive the auto during daytime and stitch clothes in the evening. Inshallah! I have saved Rs 10,000 from these businesses! I have learned to budget my income and expenses through financial planning and managed these savings!” says a beaming Bano, said as she looks up, uttering a silent prayer of thanks. But, her road to financial independence wasn’t easy. She faced a lot of hurdles by taking up a job in what is believed to be a primarily male-dominated field. “My family did not talk to me for months, mocked me. But, I had only one thought in mind, to provide education to my children,” says a determined Bano. Her new-found perseverance, courage and confidence is part of the outcome of the six-week course, Entrepreneur Mindset Transformation Training, that she participated in.
Bano is one of the 100+ entrepreneurs who have participated in the Entrepreneur Mindset Transformation training program developed by the Udhyam Life Foundation (ULF) that supports the growth of low-income, fledgeling entrepreneurs in the unorganized sector, particularly from the marginalized section and women.
The primary goal of the module is to encourage meaningful and sustainable income uplift in their participants’ business. The course focuses on group-centric activities so that these entrepreneurs realize their self-worth, learn the tricks of the trade such as the importance of marketing, customer feedback, and managing expenses diligently.
Bano graduated from this course thanks to the partnership between Udhyam and the LifeLine Foundation, where Udhyam ran this six-week course. The LifeLine Foundation is a microfinancing institution that provides interest-free loans to the marginalised section of Muslim women.
Ravali, an Early Team member from Udhyam explained to The Logical Indian that the barriers that women, especially low-income entrepreneurs, face are far more than the kind of barriers men would face at the same level. These barriers can be either the lack of education, no access to finance, low self-confidence or all of the above, and so they usually do not successfully engage in business. Therefore, this program is especially helpful to women since it helps give them exposure on how to run their businesses efficiently. “As the average literacy level of our stakeholders is low, we create more activity-based modules and ensure that there is group learning to ensure that they are comfortable throughout the course,” she added.
Transformation curriculum has been developed by Udhyam, based on the interactions with nano and micro-entrepreneurs and organizations that work with them in different capacities. The programme is activity-based training which helps participants recognize themselves for the work they are doing and develop a respect for their entrepreneurial capabilities. It helps them see entrepreneurship as being instrumental in bringing prosperity not only to themselves but their families and society as a whole. They recognize that entrepreneurship is a highly valued proposition and that no business is menial. The programme focuses on helping nano and micro-entrepreneurs with income less than INR 10,000 per month to develop a mindset to grow & scale their businesses. Participants of the program range from street hawkers, tailors, vegetable sellers, amongst others. “We make them feel that they are not mere hawkers or street vendors, but they are businesswomen, no matter what the size of their business. It is important to make them realize their potential and push them to ascend the ladder to success,” the employee proclaimed.
While the graduation ceremony echoed confidence, delight, and voice of wailing babies, like Bano, many women are just gearing up to excel at business and become a contributing member to their families. These women will also become an inspiration on women empowerment and entrepreneurial spirit to these children and their community at large.
To read more such stories of transformation at Udhyam Learning Foundation, read about their work.