In India and the world over, life usually presents more obstacles in the path of a woman than her male counterpart trying to achieve similar objectives in life; a number of extra hurdles that she must overcome to reach the same destination. It was not different for Mrs. Vaishali Patil. Born in Dayal Nagar (Wardha, Maharashtra), to a family with limited means, Vaishali’s life was quite difficult from the word go. She had to give up on her studies as soon as she completed her secondary education because her parents would not be able to afford higher education for her. In many parts of the country, till date, marrying off a girl whose education cannot be afforded is presented as the only solution by the society. The onus of protecting her is transferred from her father to her husband. The same happened with Vaishali. However, life had different plans for her, and did she rise to the occasion! 

Though a kind and supportive person, Vaishali’s husband fell so ill in the initial years of their marriage, that he lost his job. Suddenly, the young woman now had the role of the breadwinner of the family. She neither had experience, nor the exposure to this kind of a responsibility, but she definitely had the aptitude.  

Vaishali spotted a job vacancy for the position of a team leader in a company called Ideal Washing Co. in Bhandara, quite far from her house. She bagged the job, and moved there to support her family. While on the job, she learnt quite a few things. . Her role taught her how to deal with retailers, how to keep up with market trends, and how to keep customers happy. She also learnt a lot about the system of demand and supply.  

However, the company would keep back a large chunk of employees’ salaries and treated them as shareholders, promising to invest the money into the business and share the profit with all the employees. To substitute the missing part of her income, Vaishali had started making papad and pickles at home and sold them door-to-door. She would sell about four kinds of food items, barely making any money to meet her daily expenses. It was going well until, suddenly she was left without a job when the company simply vanished from the town. 

But Vaishali now was a different woman. Though she had always nurtured a dream of being self-employed and doing something in the field of homemade products, she was under-confident. But the exposure she got from working with a corporate gave her to confidence to take the plunge now. Having faced a lot of difficulties in her own life, she also wanted to help other women in her community. Creating jobs and becoming self-reliant was a great way to lead by example. 

Thus was born Vaishali Gruh Udyog. She started her business with a lot of confidence, armed with her family’s support, and an initial investment of INR 50,000 from her savings. However, she still needed basic necessities and the guidance to apply for a business loan. And she had no idea about these things. Neither did she have any bank transactions to show for her work experience, nor the paperwork required to apply for the loan, or a guarantor.  

But it was meant to be. Around the same time, she got to know about BYST from the newspaper, and immediately got in touch. BYST helped her refine her project idea and also helped with the required paperwork. Bank officials visited her place to see the kind of work she was doing. Vaishali applied for a loan of INR 2 lakhs but the bank sanctioned INR 3 lakhs within five days of applying for the loan. With this money Vaishali was able to buy machinery to make sewai (vermicelli), chips, pasta and expanded her product line to include 36 more food items.  

Vaishali’s first mentor was Vidya Khare, who passed away from illness. Vaishali misses her a lot. It was Late Vidya Khare who inspired her to increase the number of food items. She had also advised Vaishali to keep improving the product quality continuously.  

Her current mentor is Dr. Som Pandya owns Khadi Gramudyog and a training center. He guides her with workforce management. It is the workforce that plays a vital role in the growth of any business. Human resource management, timely appreciation, and criticism, all form an important part of the lessons she learns diligently from Dr. Pandya. He also  supports Vaishali in customer management. With his support Vaishali aims to increase 5 customers every day. To replicate the impact BYST has had on her life, she attends all the events and meetings regularly. She also encourages young women to start their own businesses based on their skill sets and makes them aware about BYST.  

Producing 40 kinds of food items, Vaishali today has a turnover of 40 lakhs, with an income of 90k per month. Her product-line includes mainly chivda, chakli, all types of tortillas, pickles, noodles and other homemade eatables. Initially, she would deliver the products herself by going door–to–door to spread the word about her business herself. This way she could maintain a direct relationship with her customers and gained a better understanding of their demands and needs. Now she has an all-women’s team of forty, employed both directly and indirectly. Her employees have been working with her for the past ten years in the district of Wardha. She specifically hired only women due to her strong faith in their skillsets and sincerity. She still does door-to-door selling and now her husband also helps with her unit when she is away on sales calls.  

Vaishali Gruh Udyog is always looking to increase their repertoire and maintain the highest level of quality in their products. By taking their business online and taking customers needs and requirements into account, they have taken an important step in improving the relationship between the customer and the company. This will also help them further the business. Vaishali employs women from poor families and is looking to hire more as she expands her business to other districts. With the world seeing an increase in demand for homemade products and delivery services, she has smartly decided to do both through her unit. Her main aim remains to make as many women independent as possible. She trains them, helps them realise their potential and own their identities.  

When COVID-19 struck, no one could predict the length of its stay, but it was clear that the impact would be far-reaching and long-lasting. The lockdown during the early days of the pandemic affected businesses and drove some to closure. Economies suffered worldwide, and India was no different.  

Needless to say, Mrs. Vaishali Patil’s Vaishali Gruh Udyog also took a hit. However, she was quick to regroup and handle the fallout that was caused due to lockdown and the restrictions caused by it. She did face problems of availability of skilled workers, but maintained her relationship with her customers by providing order services both online and offline, and adding new products as per customer requests. She also took short meetings with SHG women online to encourage them during the tough times. She stood by her employees by paying their full salaries and extending her moral support. Additionally, she took care of the health provisions of all her employees. She also donated water purifer/cooler to hospital. 

To remain steadfast and calm in the face of crisis and work towards solutions, to take your responsibilities seriously is the mark of a successful leader. Being flexible in your approach towards work has emerged as an important quality in the times of the pandemic and BYST is proud to work with an intuitive entrepreneur like Mrs. Vaishali Patil. Her outstanding leadership skills have won her the Vijaylakshmidas Award as well. This mother of two is certainly rewriting her stories and the stories of several other women by creating jobs and by simply being an inspiration!