Maya, age 23, had always dreamed of having a job and supporting her family after she completed her education. But she was forced to quit her studies early due to her parents’ financial hardships. Even though she had no experience in the job market, she got a job working at a cloth export company near her home in New Delhi, and managed to gain some basic tailoring skills. Maya’s salary, however, did not cover her daily travel and food expenses. When the business slowed down, she was forced to leave her job.
Undaunted, Maya and another 23-year-old, Saheb, who was working in the same export unit, decided to start a tailoring unit of their own. By pooling their resources — Saheb’s meager savings and Maya’s work experience — they were able to rent a small space and open their new business.
As they struggled to keep their tailoring enterprise open – made more difficult due to their limited knowledge of the market and increased operational costs — Maya heard about a new program called Young Entrepreneurs. An initiative of the Community Collective Society for Integrated Development (CCFID), the International Youth Foundation (IYF), and MasterCard Worldwide, the program is designed to support young people in India who want to start their own businesses. Maya, seeing an exciting opportunity to learn more about the business world, immediately enrolled. In the beginning, Maya gained basic “life skills” that, among other things, helped her gain new confidence in herself and set her goals to become a successful entrepreneur. She then underwent CCFID’s 12-session business and entrepreneurial skills training that included classes in market research, client targeting, product customization, new design, and entrepreneurship management.
As part of her training, Maya learned how to prepare a business plan, which she says really opened her eyes to the potential of scaling up her small company. One of the first things she did after she graduated and returned to her tailoring business was to focus on customer selection. As a result, the business, whose sales had been declining for the last few months, started to pick up new customers. She has also become more innovative in her design after the training – introducing block printing and embroidery designs in her materials. In the meanwhile, CCFID had linked her up with a mentor in Fabindia, one of the largest garment companies in India, which helped her tap into more retail orders.
Today, Maya and Saheb are running a successful tailoring and designing unit which supplies orders to a range of showrooms and customers. Already employing five young people, and seeing the potential for her business to continue to grow, Maya has applied for financial support from CCFID’s revolving loan fund, supported by MasterCard Worldwide to help young entrepreneurs access financing for their small enterprises that is otherwise difficult to obtain. Perhaps most importantly, Maya has realized her lifelong dream: To support her family.
Here is how Maya tells her story:
“Being a girl – and from a poor family — I was not sure whether I would be able to start and run my own enterprise. I was about to shut down my business as I had no family support to run the enterprise or guidance on how to generate orders, and I was unable to market my finished products.
But the CCFID team and its training on entrepreneurship have given a new life to me and to my business. Now I am able to bring a variety to my products, introduce new designs, and employ five people. Through the Young Entrepreneurs training, CCFID has linked me to retail shops like Fabindia and ViVa and I am now able to generate orders, process them and sell them at competitive prices in the market. My family has now accepted me as self-employed and I am feeling very happy. Thank you for the support.”