At a time when the Covid-19 pandemic has driven millions out of jobs, this Telangana woman has not only successfully anchored her small and medium startup through the crisis, but has also become a job creator for more than 100 women.
Latha Nadukuda, a school dropout in Nizamabad town, symbolises women’s empowerment and is definitely an inspiration to many young and aspiring entrepreneurs.
The 31-year-old entrepreneur is providing employment to 120 women in her town, through her startup, Shree Latha Garments and Ladies Tailors.
Making a modest beginning with tailoring work as a member of urban Self-Help Group (SHG) more than a decade ago to help the family, Latha has today evolved into a successful independent entrepreneur, paying Rs 1.20 lakh per month as salaries to her employees.
The unit continues to thrive with an annual turnover of Rs 25-30 lakh despite the pandemic.
Latha, who started the unit with just one sewing machine, has given machines to most of her employees, who work from home to help the unit deliver a variety of orders ranging from women’s sleepwear and innerwear to face masks and uniforms.
It has been a long and arduous journey for Latha, who is happy that her hard work has finally paid off.
The woman, who discontinued her education after 7th class, recalled that the group activity and later her interaction with others gave her confidence.
“I was very shy and could barely speak a few words but the exposure I had in SHG and the support I got from WE Hub boosted my confidence. Today, I can express myself without any hesitation and I consider this as a big achievement,” Latha told IANS over phone from Nizamabad.
She made a small beginning in 2013 by setting up a small shop at home with an investment of Rs 1 lakh, which she mobilized through a loan against gold.
Shobha Rani, an official in the district collectorate who coordinate SHG activities, said Latha received all the support from the strong ecosystem. She further strengthened her business activity by availing a loan of Rs 3 lakh under Stree Nidhi programme, aimed at providing affordable credit to SHG women.
Latha’s husband, a home guard, too played a key role in her success. Due to his contacts in the police department, he secured home guard uniform orders for her unit. This boosted Latha’s confidence and helped her to bag several orders including orders for school uniforms.
Her march was not hindered by the pandemic. She altered her business model to stitch school uniforms, face masks and even PPE kits for sanitation staff.
“We have delivered one lakh masks and 300 PPE kits,” she said.
Last year, Latha was identified as one of high potential women entrepreneurs by WE Hub, India’s first state-led incubator to foster and promote women entrepreneurship, under project ‘Her &Now’.
WE Hub has partnered with GIZ (Deutsche Gesellschaft fur Internationale Zusammenarbeit GmbH) under the name of project ‘Her & Now’ to promote and scale up aspiring and existing women entrepreneurs in tier 2 and tier 3 regions of Telangana State. Every entrepreneur in this programme gains access to the entire ecosystem built by WE Hub.
Through this programme, WE Hub is incubating and accelerating 89 entrepreneurs from 24 districts in Telangana.
“Latha who is from a challenged economic, educational background is a trailblazer because she challenged the narrative of what a rural women entrepreneur is,” Deepthi Ravula, CEO of WE Hub, told IANS.
“She embodies the various skills needed for every entrepreneur such as commitment, skill, organizational management and importantly creating avenue for employment in the community. She was effective in translating the skills she acquired to take steps towards entrepreneurship and set up her own manufacturing unit. ”
Ravula pointed out that through WE Hub, Latha received mentoring support in financial literacy including accounting, bookkeeping by which she now handles finances in a better way.
“WE Hub brought Hamstech Design School to enable Latha in product refinement diversify her offering and importantly marketing of her products. She has also received design kits from Hamstech Design School which she used for her design integration of apparels.
“Behind the success of Latha we can see a strong entrepreneurial drive which was backed by an ecosystem created by the Government of Telangana,” she added.