Chaitali Chokroborty

Some businesses have risky ingredients

In Chaitali Chokroborty’s business, a moment of carelessness can kill. And she says there have been some close shaves, once when acid splashed on her husband. Chaitali, 35, has been bottling hydrochloric acid and phenyl and packaging bleaching powder since 2003.

When Chaitali got married in 2002, her husband’s extended family was in the bakery business. But Chaitali decided to branch out with something new. Talking to friends, she learnt that there was good demand for basic household cleaning agents such as hydrochloric acid, used to clean commodes, and phenyl, used as a disinfectant.

Chaitali, a resident of Atra village in Udaynarayanpur in West Bengal’s Hooghly district, has studied up to Class 9 and had no idea about her proposed business. But her husband Ujjal, 50, was interested, and she raised some money against her jewellery.

In 2007, she took her first loan from Village Financial Services. In 2017, having cleared her first loan and taken a break, she approached VFS again for a loan. Chaitali buys bottles and cardboard boxes, to package the acid and phenyl that she buys in bulk from Kolkata.

Chaitali and her husband share the work. They wear protective gear at work. Ujjal looks after the marketing and the initial handling of the hazardous chemicals, while Chaitali bottles the acid and phenyl, and packs the bleaching powder in small boxes for retail sales. She also pastes labels on the products.

They sell the packaged products to distributors and retailers around their village. They have a vehicle for the deliveries and have employed a driver and a helper. The business runs throughout the year, and Chaitali is regular with her loan repayments.

Published on Apr 6, 2021 | Updated on Apr 13, 2022