This article takes a look at the struggle and hardships of a successful micro entrepreneur, sociable with a never-say-die attitude, one of the most sought after vegetable vendors, ward member and a social activist….Sulochana Majhi, a 60 year old tribal woman of Bhagipali, who with her strong determination, self belief, hard work and active support from Vedanta, has set an example for many in achieving a new horizon of success !
JHARSUGUDA: Sulochana Majhi, a resident of Bhagipali village in Jharsuguda district of Orissa, comes from a very poor family. She lost her husband at an early age and after a rift with the in-laws, she walked out of family with her three children. She managed to get her share of property – two acres of land – and that initially sustained the family, but not for long. She began cultivating rice grains on that land and selling it to the local farmers. The profit, though meagre, somehow helped her meet the basic family needs. But she knew that this would not suffice and started exploring opportunities for growth.
Her determined and ambitious approach led her to look for an alternative venture. It is then that she became a member of Mohini Mission Shakti Self Help Group (SHG) and learnt the basics of borrowing loan from a bank. In the year 2008, the SHG was linked to Subhalaxmi Cooperative, a flagship project under Vedanta Integrated Jan Jivika Yojana (VIJJY). Her exposure to Subhalaxmi opened a window of opportunities for her to emerge as a micro entrepreneur. The training given by the Cooperative was very beneficial and encouraging. Sulochana was one of the first members to take a loan of Rs. 5,000 to start vegetable cultivation in her farm land. But the land did not respond well and the produce was not adequate.
She then shifted to vegetable vending business wherein she would lift vegetables from village farmers and sell them in the nearby market with a good profit margin. Gradually, as the business expanded, she started getting vegetables from nearby villages as well. The market responded well. She became one of the most sought after vegetable vendors of the locality earning a weekly profit of about Rs. 1, 000 – Rs. 2,000. Sulochana repaid her first loan on time and took another loan of Rs. 10, 000 to start mushroom cultivation. The training that she had received from the Cooperative gave her the courage to start afresh. Her new business proved to be profitable in the initial three months, but she had to abandon it eventually due to raw materials getting scarce.
Now Sulochana has donned a new role – that of a social activist fighting against the sale of illicit liquor and is determined to stop its sale in her area. Politically she plays a proactive role at the grassroots level and has been elected as the Ward Member from her locality in the Panchayati Raj Institutions. She is one of the most active and leading members listed in the Board of Directors of Subhalaxmi Cooperative and regularly attends its training programmes and exposure visits.
Sulochana has no regrets about her various ventures and happily talks about the experiences and learning that she gained with each passing day. “Taking a tough decision needs a lot of inner strength. I was not very sure about my decision then. But friends and well-wishers stood by me during my difficult times and made my journey a bit easy’’, she recalls in a choked voice with gratitude towards Vedanta’s Subhalaxmi Cooperative and fellow villagers for timely help and guidance.