Inside the quaint little lanes of Mangawas village in Jhajjar, Haryana, lives 28-year-old Sarita Devi who owns a shop that sells ladies apparel—colourful suits in different fabrics—for every occasion her customers demand. Sarita was born with a deformity in her left leg because of which she could not work in the fields, tend to the cattle or walk very far. With this constraint, and having studied only till Grade 10, Sarita had to depend on her husband’s sole income to run their household. Earlier when Sarita would go to the market in the nearby town, she had to give up on things she had her heart set on in lieu of saving money for the bus ride home. There are many women just like Sarita— approximately 34,000 of them in Haryana—who live a life of constraint due to their impairments.

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But now that Sarita began earning her own livelihood, there is a spring in her step and she no longer requires to compromise on her wishlists or that of her children. “Now when they ask me for Rs.10 or Rs. 20, I give them my self-earned money and ask them to bring two of what they are getting, one for me!” laughs Sarita.

“I have found a great place where I purchase my stock in bulk, sometimes even 2-3 times a month. Once in a while even my husband asks me to get a shirt-pant set for him and nothing makes me happier than being able to do that without asking any money from him,” says Sarita who started her enterprise in May, 2018 after attending the Bridging Information Gap Training (BIG) followed by a three-day start- up training under UNDP India’s Disha project implemented by Humana People to People India. She fondly remembers the lessons she learnt during the training. “I knew I had to walk this path myself but Disha showed me the direction and continued to do so even after I started by enterprise,” she says.

To start her enterprise, Sarita borrowed Rs. 10,000 from her Self-Help Group and used her social connections to form a network of customers as well as promote word-of-mouth marketing.

“Women may not have ample food in their kitchens but they will always save up for a beautiful suit for themselves. And that is why I sell the most beautiful clothes and cosmetics in my store,” says Sarita with a proud smile. “I want to overthrow people’s notion that for good quality and up-to-date trends, they have to go to the big cities and towns. When my customers get complimented and asked where they had purchased their clothes, it makes me very happy and helps me gain more customers!”

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Sarita also connects her customers to her sister who stitches suits. Today, people no longer associate Sarita as a helpless woman who has a disability but looks up to her as someone who has job opportunities for other women. Sarita believes one needs to start somewhere—even if it is a small start. In her journey, she is on her way to building a brand of her own, one, which promises the latest trends right around the corner of her customer’s homes.

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Humana People to People India is a development organization registered as a not-for-profit company under section 25 of the Companies Act, 1956 as of 21st May 1998. It is a non-political, non-religious organization. Its mission is to unite with people in India in order to create development in the broadest sense through the implementation of the projects that aim at transferring knowledge, skills and capacity to individuals and communities who need assistance to come out of poverty and other dehumanizing conditions.

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