“If a lady is not afraid, and has the courage to move ahead and aim for something higher, then nothing is impossible!”
At one point of time, she never dreamed that she would be working on her own and managing her work independently. Ms Rekha Parihar from Pilibhit, in UP today took that vital step when she decided to pull herself up and move out of the confines of her home, and even encourage other women – to join her in her business. She shares with Shree Lahiri the initial problems, how her husband’s support helped from the beginning, her immediate future plans and more…
- How did you think about becoming an entrepreneur?
I was a housewife and I used to be happy living an easy life – staying at home and spending my free time sleeping. Then it was my husband who pointed out something that actually changed my life. He suggested that instead of sleeping, why don’t I seriously think about something that I could do to keep myself occupied. To be frank, I was scared at the beginning, but he encouraged me all the way.
I started my business by going around and encouraging ladies to step out of their houses and get involved in some activity that can take care of their wants in life. So, I started the Samaj Seva Shiksha Committee where I went about urging women to start something of their own – like cultivation of mushrooms, creating handicrafts from water hyacinth and products like mosquito repellants from cow dung too. We collect these and sell them at markets like Dilli Haat. The ladies work independently, and we buy the products from them and sell these at haats. We also sell dry mushrooms, wet mushrooms that are cultivated by the women. We have also taken these products to Bangalore, Hyderabad, Jabalpur, Chandigarh, Chitrakoot and Gujarat too.
- What are some strengths that a woman entrepreneur should possess?
The daily needs of a woman cannot be always satisfied by a husband’s salary, so to fulfill her needs she needs to start something on her own, which can bring in some income. It is important she should not hesitate to be independent, and must take the risk. She must be hard-working, because that it key to success. She should not be under the pardah, and should be ready to go out of her house and start something of her own.
- Could you tell us about the challenges faced by you?
I started out in 2014 and at that time, it was extremely difficult to motivate women to come out of their houses. They were hesitant and some even said that their husbands would not allow. Now that they have taken the step, they have formed groups to work, according to the location they stay and are independent and growing!
- How did you get funds?
First we used our own funds and invested in providing women training and financial support to start on their own. It’s like taking care of a child, first feed them, help them in every way and then they learn to stand on their own feet!
- Do you think the current business scenario encourages women entrepreneurship?
Yes definitely. If a lady is not afraid, and has the courage to move ahead and aim for something higher, then nothing is impossible! Today everything is possible. She can overcome her fear and also get support. This is applicable to men too, if they want to start something, they will need support.
- How do you handle the fierce competition?
As of now, there is no competition. It competition does come up in the future, I don’t think we will face any problem, because we have enough experience. We also have support from the village MP, who is in favour of women empowerment!
- What are your future plans?
As of now, we are working in one district – Pilibhit, near Bareilli in UP. We plan to go to other districts too. We hope to go to Uttarakhand and Sultanpur so that we can encourage more women to enter the business world and become independent.
- Any tips for someone starting out today?
They should have confidence to Once she starts, she should continue. Even if she faces failure, she should not get discouraged or break down, for failure is a part of success!