Sugrabi Mulani was born into an extremely poor family, but her emotional strength and presence of mind is impressive.
“I wanted to study very desperately but maybe because of being a daughter or maybe because we were so poor, I never got a chance to do that”, she says.
Married off to a man in Gondavale village at thirteen, she worked as a daily wage laborer even as she kept having children. Sugrabi says, “My husband was very lazy and procrastinated all the time. I wanted to have a stable source of income, especially because we had four children. I realized that if I did not start earning properly soon, my children would suffer just like I did”.
Sugrabi began by setting up a mutton shop –not without great opposition, since this is traditionally considered a man’s job. Undeterred, she traveled to several villages to buy goats and lambs, which she then slaughtered herself and sold. But the income was insufficient and she set up a small confectionery shop and a bangle business. By then her husband had abandoned her and things were extremely difficult for a very long time as she faced relentless community and family harassment.
She says it was Mann Deshi that gave her the training and support she needed.“From Mann Deshi, I got training in financial management, which was very helpful”. She got the idea to sell the eggs from her poultry at her shop and generally recycle resources between her three businesses. “Most of all”, she says, “I met so many women and I knew I was not alone.” Her daily income tripled from a meager Rs. 100 to Rs. 300.
She started a self-help group (SHGs) with 5 other women in 2014, with Rs. 1,000 of monthly pooled savings. A first loan of Rs. 5,000 from this SHG enabled her to establish her poultry business. Today she is part of a network of over 35 women. She has fought through numerous hurdles and wishes to assist any other woman to overcome poverty and the other hurdles in the way of self-reliance.
Sugrabi is very proud of her achievements. With her business acumen, she has raised enough money to build a new home for herself and her family and educated her four children. One son owns an auto garage that she helped set up. Another son works in a company and her older daughter is a nurse. Her youngest daughter completed her diploma in Education and is now a teacher at a nearby college. Sugrabi wishes to further grow her businesses through additional capital from the Mann Deshi Bank.
Sugrabi’s story is that of a fighter. When we asked her how she had managed to overcome so many obstacles, she proudly said –“My courage is my capital.” Powerful words indeed. Our annual report, which takes up her slogan, is dedicated to the many women like Sugrabi who face tremendous obstacles with dignity, and inspire us all to do the same.