According to one of their neighbour Gyanwati Devi,
“Generally, we have seen such physically disable people begging on the
streets, and they make easy money by making wretched faces. But Devi &
Krishna took a bold step to open a petty shop from his house without
assistance from his family. Devi Sharan has two elder brothers -
Surender & Sukhbeer. Surender is a daily wage labourer and Sukhbeer is a
mason worker. All three brothers are staying in the same compound but
have different kitchens and have one room each for their family."
The inadequate working capital led them to purchase goods
every morning resulting in lesser return on investment. They had to walk
long distances for fetching goods daily and it was tedious task bringing
goods and moving on the road was risky as well for them.
About two years ago, when they were passing through a
difficult period of life, they came to know that few women from her
street has taken a loan from Ujjivan, a leading urban microfinance
company in India, working for betterment of urban poor. This prompted
Krishna and Devi Sharan to join a group along with their neighbours in
the vicinity for a loan of Rs.8000 from Ujjivan.
Devi Sharan used this loan for expanding their petty shop
business which is a major source of earning from them. After taking this
loan, they were able to buy in bulk and enhance their product ranges and
hence customers from neighbourhood also started pouring in resulting to
coverage of around 100 households currently.
According to Devi Sharan, “Earlier, I used to bring goods
from the market daily, which has now converted into fortnightly, which
means enhanced earning on wholesale rate and reduced stress of daily
purchase. We were able to meet our working capital requirement for this
On asking the benefit of the loan from Ujjivan, the
couple replied, “Loan from Ujjivan has helped us a lot. We were able to
expand our business and hence the earning as well. Earlier, we used to
sell goods worth Rs.250/- and save 10% of this amount. Now it has gone
up by three times and hence the earning has also multiplied.”
“Devi Sharan was born in this house only and he got
married to Krishna with the help of his brothers and a neighbour in the
village about four years ago. Krishna is a resident of a small village
in Varanasi district of eastern Uttar Pradesh. Mother tongue of Krishna
is Bhojpuri and hence sometimes we fail to understand. But when it comes
to repayment and attending the centre meetings, she is always on time
without fail,” said Laxmi Devi, another Ujjivan's customer who is also
member in her group.
“After first cycle loan, Krishna took a top-up and
thereafter she could have taken a loan of Rs.12000/-. But she and her
husband refused for this and instead opted for a second loan of
Rs.10000/- only, citing their capacity to repay the loan”, added Laxmi
Devi Sharan is a very dutiful husband who is doing his
best to make a happy family. Recently Krishna was suffering from Typhoid
and Devi Sharan had to shell out about Rs.4500 for her treatment. Due to
this, she has become very weak and skinny also. But despite this, like
every year, they go to her native village in the Varanasi district to
see Krishna's parents. This year also, Krishna is determined to visit
her parents' house on the occasion of Raksha Bandhan (a festival of
north India, in which sister ties holy strings on brother's hand and
brother promises to do his bit for his sisters well beings).
They complement each other at work, if husband fails to
serve customers properly then wife helps and very often customers are
also considerate and co-operate them as per requirement. Now they often
go to the market together and come back by rickshaw with goods for their
shop. During emergency, they buy from Bhood Chauraha else they go to
Bhura market for the same.
Though you may ponder that Devi can be fooled by giving
him a fake note, but this is simply not possible. Perhaps he has
developed very good understanding of currency note and hence he
identifies them all by touching and blurred images of right eye.
Even though, Devi Sharan and Krishna are illiterate but
have become astute business persons as they display only those goods
which are in demand. They keep the rest in the safe place away from
others sight. According to them, this is necessary to avoid people
asking for credit. Though they credit but to only those who keep
promises to payback on time.
Intervention of microfinance has helped a large number of
needy people, Krishna Devi and Devi Sharan has also been benefited
immensely through this and they are very proud of this achievement.
After lots of struggle, they have been able to earn and make a decent
and respectable lifestyle for them, which is hard to imagine in case of
such physical disability. They are now determined to make their daughter
self-sufficient and lead a better life, no matter how hard they have to
work for this.
(Author is a Development
Professional and is now working in the vigilance department of Ujjivan
Financial services, New Delhi)