VFS microfinance customer making household chemicals

Piyali Deb

Uluberia woman is a success at mixing chemicals

Piyali Deb’s tale is just what Village Financial Services hopes to weave every time it lends to an enterprising woman: she has put her two sons through college while running a business in making household chemicals.

Piyali, 43, married to Shibhankar Deb for 24 years, started by helping her husband set up the business. Shibshankar got his own business idea after coming across some small factories in their area, Uluberia in West Bengal’s Howrah district. He set up the business 20 years ago.

Today, Piyali, who has studied up to Class 12, is an equal partner. She took her first loan from the Birshibpur branch of Village Financial Services in January 2020, just before the COVID19 pandemic hit the world. She has a loan of Rs 50,000.

One son, 22, is a graduate and helps in the business, while the other, 20, is still in college.

Piyali used the VFS money to buy raw materials and scale up the business. She learnt the art of mixing chemicals safely from her husband. They buy the chemicals in bulk from wholesalers in Kolkata and sell the finished products to dealers in the local market.

Piyali says she makes a profit of Rs 18,000 or so a month. The business was affected during the first lockdowns in 2020 because there was no transport to fetch supplies from Kolkata or to feed the dealers who pick up their products.

Things are better now for Piyali. Their bestselling product is white phenyl. Piyali also sells toilet cleaner and bleaching powder.

Piyali, her husband, son and a brother-in-law manage the work with the help of one labourer, who does the mixing part. It takes 3-5 hours to make one batch of finished products. Their “factory” is a room in their house.

Piyali pastes the labels on the products, which they make for various local brands. Piyali claims she sells the products to dealers at less than 60 per cent of the MRP or maximum retail price. The dealers give her a 20 per cent advance and pay the rest when they pick up the branded chemicals.

Published on Oct 18, 2021 | Updated on Apr 13, 2022