When Uma’s husband passed away suddenly, Uma was left to raise their four young boys alone. She rented out a room in their small house, but the rent wasn’t enough to cover their expenses. With no other way to earn the income they needed, she turned to what she knew best – sewing.
For three years Uma tailored ladies’ garments by hand from her home but struggled with the amount of time it took her to complete the garments. She applied and received a small loan from Opportunity’s partner, ESAF, which she used to purchase a sewing machine. Now able to work faster, her business grew rapidly, allowing her to pay back her original loan and take out additional ones: one to dig a well, and one to start a small shop.
Her days began early and ended late, with the shop opening at 6am and not closing until 11pm. With both her sewing business and the shop – and four hungry boys – it was a struggle to get everything done. “I spent a lot of time in that shop,” she says. “I had one foot in the shop and one in the kitchen!”
But the hard work paid off. In the ten years since she took out her first loan, Uma’s business has expanded into something almost unrecognisable. With additional loan cycles Uma has purchased more sewing machines and more materials. She now runs a garment factory in multi-level building she constructed above her house and pays around 30 tailors to produce the fashionable garments that are in high demand in her community – a thriving, profitable business that began with a single sewing machine.
“I never stop working,” she says. “If you don’t do anything, you can’t get anything – do hard work and you will move forward. It’s every woman’s responsibility.”