Hope For Small Business Owners

Hope For Small Business Owners

Twenty-nine-year-old Sangita Devi and her husband Jitendra Ram (aged 32 and a person with disability) are a Dalit couple from Barah village of Harnaut block in Nalanda, Bihar. They run a small shop for mobile phone repairs. The shop has recently started doing well due to an upgrade in appliances and an increase in resources.

However, this wasn’t always the case. There was a time when they only had meagre resources. The appliances that they had for repairing mobile phones were inadequate and the infrastructure was inconvenient for a person with disability. The couple had saved up some money to buy better tools for mobile repairs, but due to the COVID-19 lockdown, their savings quickly dried up.

Jitendra had to travel a distance of 30 kms to Bihar Sharif just to check whether the client’s mobile phone had power supply. Not only did this add to expenses, it also cut down on the operational hours at the shop, thereby lowering the number of customers.

This is where Oxfam India’s Holistic Rural Development Programme (HRDP) team stepped in. The Oxfam India-HDFC initiative, titled ‘Project Utthan’, contributes towards the socio-economic empowerment of people from marginalised communities by aiding with sustainable livelihood options and improving access to essential services (especially women) across 15 villages in Nalanda.

Under Project Utthan, Sangita and Jitendra were provided with Rs 12,000, with which the couple were able to purchase a power supply booster, a heating machine for touch-screen cell phones, a mobile repairing pad and a revolving roller chair. All this has helped them boost their income by Rs 4,000 per month and they can keep their shop open longer than they used to.

Jitendra and Sangita are very grateful to Oxfam India’s HRDP team. They said, “As a result of insufficient repair tools and long hours spent in travelling to Bihar Sharif – we used to take more time. We used to struggle a lot to get customers since they didn’t have faith in how much time we take for repair work”. Since travel time has been reduced and with access to better appliances for mobile repair, they can now efficiently run their shop for longer hours.

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