Sushma Devi – The housewife turned construction worker starts a business

Sushma Devi, a construction worker coming from a poor family background, is the recipient of the microbusiness grant from the School of Hope and Empowerment (SHE), which is a combined initiative of Better India and the TATA Communications CSR team. 

School of Hope and Empowerment uses a series of inspirational and educational videos to create awareness and interest in entrepreneurship for rural women. This time Sushma, a resident of Anandpur, Jharkhand happens to be the recipient of SHE’s microbusiness grant, a little sum of money offered to rural women to start their own business.

Sushma belongs to a Below Poverty Level (BPL) family. She and her husband, Nimesh have two kids, a five-year-old boy and a 10-month-old baby. Nimesh is a Chinese food thela owner who sells Chowmein to the people of Anandpur. They live in a house made under the Indira Awas Yojana project and shares the space with her aged in-laws. Sushma says that the money they received was not enough to build a house and they had to finish the construction with the help of a mason.

This year, School of Hope and Empowerment reached out to women in several small towns in Jharkhand. They received over 400 plus applicants seeking mentoring and securing a business grant of Rs 50,000. Of them, only three were selected. Sushma was extremely happy, knowing that she was among one of the three.

Sushma wants to become like Hasrat Bano, a rural woman entrepreneur who overcame odds and established a couple of successful businesses. Hasart Bano had found her luck when she became a member of a woman self-help group (SHG) in 2013. She took a loan of Rs 80,000 from the SHG to begin her business. She opened a flour mill and followed it up with a shoe shop. From these two businesses, Hasrat earns over Rs 20,000 a month. The story of Hasrat Bano and others inspire women from rural India to come out of poverty and dream of a better future.

After some years of being a housewife, Sushma had started working at a construction site to earn for the family. She was working, for Rs100 per day for eight hours. While she was working her in-laws would be taking care of the kids. However, ever since the lockdown, both Sushma and her husband lost work. This is what led Sushma to seek S.H.E.’s assistance for her new business idea.

Sushma’s business idea was to open a poultry farm in her backyard. Her business pitch for this idea won her the grant. She has received the first installment of the grant of Rs 25,000. With five hundred plus houses in the locality, Sushma’s idea, if done right, holds a lot of potential. Sushma plans to start with 25 chicks and then expand her business later.

-Written by Poorna Krishnan

Poorna is from Trivandrum, Kerala, and likes to write novels and poems. She is a graduate of ‘The Film and Television Institute of India’, Pune

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