VFS microfinance customer at her shop

Monika Adhikary

She stocks a diverse range, but makes money

Don’t put all your eggs in one basket, the idiom goes. Monika Adhikary, a resident of Thanamakua in West Bengal’s Howrah district, followed this instinctively. She began with two diverse businesses long before the COVID19 pandemic and the lockdowns triggered by it showed the importance of having alternative sources of income.

Sometime in 2017, she borrowed Rs 30,000 from the Chunavati branch of Village Financial Services, also in Howrah district, to stock the two ventures. One selling everyday necessities ranging from needles to shampoos (but no food items) from a corner of her verandah, and the other selling readymade garments, mostly women’s wear such as leggings and tops, which are increasingly popular with rural girls, and even fancy saris. This business also stocks cosmetics and costume jewellery and seasonal itiems such as blankets.

Monika, 49, is the mother of a 22-year-old son. While she had dropped out of school after Class 8, she ensured that her son completed his studies. He is a freshly-minted graduate.

Husband Tarak, 57, helps her with getting the stuff from the big wholesale markets: readymade garments and saris from Kolkata’s Burrabazar, Mangalahat and Ankurhati, and things like costume jewellery and cosmetics from Burrabazar. The typical grocery items she buys from Chunavati market.

Monika says she nets an average monthly income of Rs 10,000-12,000. She manages the business with her husband and has no assistants.

Her shops serve those who live further from the main road than she does, saving them a long trip to the market at Chunavati.

Published on Nov 26, 2021 | Updated on Apr 13, 2022