VFS microfinance customer at her garments shop

Antara Majumder

Bengal woman makes it big with garments shop

Antara Majumder, 39 is in a safe business: readymade garments. Better still, her shop is the only one selling garments in Mondalpara in West Bengal’s North 24 Parganas district.

Antara first business was with her husband Biswajit, 48, who is a supplier of poultry to retailers in the area. Two years ago, she decided to do her own thing and set up a shop to sell readymade garments and cotton sarees.

As she had a good record with the Shyamnagar branch of Village Financial Services, she could begin the solo business with a Sambriddhi loan, the biggest microfinance product on offer from the company. The first two—Briddhi and Sribridhhi—are for loans of up to Rs 60,000 and are given only to women who join lending groups so that repayments are monitored by peer pressure. The Sambriddhi loan, which can go up to Rs 200,000, is given to individuals.

Biswajit has been supplying chicken for nearly a decade now. In effect, Biswajit and Antara run two businesses.

They have two sons. Their firstborn is studying BCom with Accountancy honours, while the second is just four years old.

Antara, who had dropped out after Class 10, was determined to give her son the best education she could afford.

To stock her shop, she buys readymade garments from big dealers in Kolkata’s Burrabazar and sarees from Shantipur in Nadia, famous for its handlooms. Both are around 55-60 km from Mondalpara. Antara says demand for her products surges during festivals and the wedding season.

Antara says she earns an average of Rs 50,000 a month and up to Rs 100,000 during the festival months. According to the 2011 Census, Mondapara, which is in the Gaighata community development block, had a little over 5,000 residents.

The COVID19 lockdown of 2020 had hurt the business, but things are looking up now, says Antara. She says people from nearby areas also drop in to buy clothes and she often accepts staggered payments. Business is good.

Published on Jan 21, 2022 | Updated on Apr 13, 2022