A gracious smile adorns the face of Savita Tai Boralkar, 38, who hails from Kekatumara village in Washim district, which is one of the six districts SBI works in, in Vidarbha. She lives with her husband and two children. Savita Tai is one of the leading entrepreneurs of her village and Laxmi Sakhi Bachat Gat, her Self Help Group (SHG), of which she is a member since the last four years.

Savita Tai narrates how she has come up the ladder with support from Swayam Shikshan Prayog (SSP), through their Federation named Sakhi Ekta Sanstha. The Federation is made up of the many SHGs in the programme area. Savita Tai’s SHG is also a member group of the Federation and thus benefits from the various services offered by the Federation. Groups pay an annual fee of Rs50 per member, whereby services like training, record keeping, bank loans, Federation loans and other linkages to government schemes are provided. Apart from all this, the motivation and zeal to grow as entrepreneurs is also gained by interacting with other women entrepreneurs, seeing them upscaling their enterprises with the financial support being facilitated and offered by the Federation. 
More than anything, the courage and forthcoming attitude often displayed by Savita Tai was well tapped by the Federation leaders, who gave her ambition direction and the required support to start and thereby upscale her small enterprise.

Her family didn’t even have a proper shelter to live in — those were testing times for her family. Her husband has only 0.75 acres of land to his name. He depends solely on the soyabean crop, earning Rs25,000 as net income out of the total agricultural land available with them. A close friend inspired Savita Tai to try her hand at making snacks; thereby she was able to support the meagre family income and her husband who had many mouths to feed.

Savita Tai holds the position of a secretary at Laxmi Sakhi Bachat Gat, where she saves Rs100 monthly. She initially was thrifty and started building up her enterprise by borrowing small loans from her group. Seeing her loyalty to and regularity in group savings, the Federation gave her a loan of Rs7,000 to start her enterprise. Thereafter, she has regularly been availing of small loans amounting to Rs35,000 in total till date from her own group. To add to this, Savita Tai has also availed loans from the bank amounting to Rs20,000 to invest in her enterprise, and made timely repayment of the loans.

Managing the finances of her group as well as the household boosted her confidence to take more loans, and larger amounts, which too were repaid on time with the small profit margins she earned from her enterprise. Savita Tai’s husband has a major role to play in the expansion and success of her business. Her husband helped her start the process by getting the raw material from Akola district, which she readied in the village by baking. The investment costs have increased manifold over the years and so have the profits, and she is able to repay the loans taken from the SHG and the Federation.  

Her husband ferries the ready snacks packed in small packets by Savita Tai and her children to the nearby 10-12 villages on his bicycle. He also works in the village clinic earning Rs3,000 monthly. There are some slack days, especially in the summers, when cold drinks and kulfis are preferred more; then, the income from tailoring, which Savita Tai engages in, comes handy.

She has made a fixed deposit of Rs20,000 in the bank, which she further wishes to increase to gain maximum assured interest. Her income has increased to Rs4,000 a month from Rs1,000 a month. Being a Federation member, she has been trained in book keeping and her SHG accounts are maintained and checked by the Federation para-worker. Borrowing small loans from her SHG has gone a long way in helping her expand her enterprise as per her need and capacity. Her SHG is in talks, with the help of the Federation para-worker, for bank linkages which should support Savita Tai to start up more such enterprises.

Thus the family has reached a level of self- sufficiency and the house is equipped with basic necessities like a ceiling fan, an almirah, a T.V. and some much- needed utensils. All this was bought by Savita Tai with the profit she has made over the past ten years. What has really made Savita Tai’s enterprise a success is the upscaling done with the support from the Federation, the availability of finances and her courage, conviction and zeal — not to mention immense family support.