Winston Churchill said "Success is going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm" and Rajiyabi Kadirbhai Shaikh has defined 'success'.
"PAPAD" is often served as an appetizer; it is consumed in all parts of India and abroad. Papad making business is often associated with empowerment of women in India, and is also one of the many cottage industries of India. Many individual and organized businesses run by women produce papad, pickle and other snacks which provide them regular income from minimal financial investments. This is the story of Rajiyabi Kadirbhai Shaikh, our customer from Udhana, Surat. Over the years Rajiyabi has become a successful entrepreneur and is now a role model for the ladies in her area.
Rajiyabi belongs to a remote village of Maharashtra called- Bodhwad. This village lies in Vidarbha, a drought prone area of Maharashtra. Lack of employment opportunities has pushed residents to migrate to other cities. After getting married to Kadirbhai, Rajiyabi struggled to settle in their native village. The family then decided to move to Surat to earn a living and Rajiyabi was confident that she will be able to get some work in the city to support the family. The couple migrated to Surat almost 40 years back in search of work.
Surat was the logical choice as most of the people from their village had migrated to Surat in the past. In our discussions with Rajiyabi, she explained how the initial days were very tough for them in Surat. "Shuru me rahane ke liye ghar bhi nahi tha, to hum kaphi din station pe hi sote the" (at the beginning since there was no place to stay, we were sleeping at the railway station ). Both husband and wife started working as daily wage laborers in the textile market and continued for the next one and half years.
The family was again forced into financial burden as their family size increased. Rajiyabi could no longer continue to work and had to stay back at home to take care of their children. Kadir Bhai's income wasn't enough to feed the family. Rajiyabi decided to work from home. She got work as a piece rate worker as 'thread cutter' (Removing of extra threads from woven cloth) in a nearby textile mill for almost 10 years.
The making of Papad happened by chance. One day few guests arrived at her house, and as per Indian tradition, she served some delicious food for them. The guests praised her cooking skills and asked from where she bought the served papads; so crispy & tasty. "They are homemade", Rajiyabi replied. Indian women inherited papad making skills from their mothers. The guests suggested her to start selling her home made papads as they have a huge demand and she can fetch a good price.
Rajiyabi wasn't aware about how to start the business; she thought she should give a try since she had the skills and it required minimal investments. Her first lot of 1000 papads was soon ready to enter the market. She tried to sell it in nearby areas but it was a big disappointment. There weren't many buyers for her product. Her first attempt failed, as she didn't know where to sell it & how to market it. Rajiyabi didn't lose her enthusiasm and went on searching proper market places for her produce. She was confident that one day her product will gain demand in market.
After discussion with one of her friend, who was also in the same business, Rajiyabi got to know that there is demand for the product in Kirana shops, food malls, hotels etc. She took her product to nearby food mall & Kirana shops. Initially she fetched a very low price for it and was barely able to make any profit. Eventually she started getting orders from food malls, as quality of her product was good. Her small venture now has grown up into a large unit. She has now employed 10-12 women to roll papads. Also she purchased two papad making machines with the loan amount she availed from Ujjivan. She has added various products to her product line - Urhad Papad, Rice Papad, Aloo Papad, Sabudana Papad etc. Rajiyabi takes care of everything. She makes required dough on her own, as she says "Hum kaunasa pani use karate hai, uspe bhi papad ka taste depend rahata hai". (the taste of the papad also depends upon the water we use).
Rajiyabi now owns a house in Surat. Her husband is engaged in electronic instruments repairing work. Two of her four sons help in the Papad business and the other two are studying. She is also a Diksha certified customer; saving for her future as well. Rajiyabi is not only a good business person, but also good at heart. She is well known in her society for her kind behavior and helping nature. She is taking care of her aged mother, as her brother disowned her after getting married. Rajiyabi tell us proudly that she will give her daughters good education and make them stand on their own feet.