Nandini Lohar’s home doubles as her workplace, with the tools of her trade lining the blue walls of her rickety corrugated tin house. Nandini has been a customer of Mann Deshi Mahila Bank for several years and she used the loans to build her business of making frames for small posters of Gondavle Karmaraj, the local deity of Gondavle. It has done well as this is a popular destination which sees a few thousand pilgrims every year.
Nandini comes from a traditionally blacksmith caste. Typically, these blacksmiths live hand to mouth, earning little more than a few rupees each day from sharpening farm equipment and building metal fences.They suffer from high rates of alcoholism and abuse and low rates of education, however, Nandini and her husband are extraordinary in their entrepreneurial vision as they converted their existing skills to service the steady stream of pilgrims. Their story is one of both struggle and success, as they have been able to earn enough to send their children to school and live a life of relative stability. Both their kids are educated, married and well-settled, owing to Nandini’s entrepreneurial spirit. Her son even plans to start his own car parts business.
Every year Nandini travels to a neighbouring city to buy wood, glass, plywood, glass cutting instruments, and posters. Her husband operates the larger plywood cutting machine they bought with one of her loans.
“Mann Deshi Bank loans have helped me buy all the raw materials and equipment I needed to grow my business. No longer do we have to worry about days of starvation and we have been able to provide well for our family.”
Although her slow but steady upward mobility has isolated her from many in her social group,and this has not been an easy journey. But Nandini is eager to benefit from more trainings at Mann Deshi Business School, especially any courses that help her scale her business.
“My new daughter-in-law also takes a keen interest in the business. I take her with me to the workshop. After all, the younger generation will carry forth what we have built.”