“Hitesh, my eldest son, wants to be a Kabadi,” proudly tells 38-year-old Hema Pargai with a smile.
We met Hema at her home-cum-workstation where her employees bring scrap from Bhimtal, Ramgarh, Dhari, Mukteshwar and other places from the hills and then segregate metals and non-metals before selling it off to larger scrap dealers for recycling.
Hema, who founded this business six years ago, is a strict taskmaster. She has to be as she is probably the only women to be in the scrap business in the entire region.
When asked how did she start her business, she says, “After my husband, who was an operator at now-defunct Epic Water Purifier, died, we faced a survival crisis. We never had money as even when he was alive, to supplement income, I used to cook and clean utensils of the students living upstairs on rent. As the kids were small, I had to do something. Upon Hitesh’s suggestion, we started scrap business with a total investment of Rs 2000.”
The initial days were tough. “People, including family members, used to ask that being a woman and a brahmin, how can I do this business? I also used to feel bad. Those days as storage capacity was limited; sometimes, we had to keep scrap in the home. I used to be angry. However, it would be sold which would earn us some money,” recalls Hema.
Due to the lack of experience, Hema initially faced losses on some days before learning how to choose scrap wisely and where to sell it. However, she slowly made progress. Thanks to the money earned from this business, she educated both of her sons. Today Ritesh, her younger son, lives in Dubai after completing Hotel Management, whereas Hitesh, the elder son, supports her in the scrap business.
One day, while going to the market to get vegetables, she noticed Udhyam’s poster, which offered the loan and mentorship to entrepreneurs. She dialled on the number to check if she would be given the loan. They asked her to register, which she refused thinking as it may involve paying fees. However, she registered upon knowing that it free.
“After multiple rounds of the selection process, Udhyam gave me Rs 1,00,000, which I used for the expansion of the business. I started taking bigger contracts, government tenders etc. Today, I am happy and satisfied as it has given me everything from recognition, car and money. The recognition has also helped me in getting more work. Today, I collect scrap worth even five lakhs on some days.”
When asked that where does she see herself, a few years from now, Hema says, “I have determination but lacked mentorship. Udhyam has filled this important gap. Apart from the money and recognition, mentorship provided by Udhyam has made her business better.
A few years from now, I would like to expand her business by constructing more space for storage and employ more people.”