Somvati – Better Days to Come

Somvati (48) a member of Omkar group which is located at Shiv Vihar reached by Uttam Nagar branch, and Suraj Pal (50) her husband run a small dhaba. If we talk to them about their life in context of Shikhar, their hopefulness is evident as they say “….achhe din dekhne komilenge…..” we will see better days in the future. However things were very different when they first joined Shikhar.

Not very long ago in 2008 Omkar was the third group formed by the branch team and Somvati was one of the members. Suraj Pal her husband worked as a labourer on daily wages. He would visit the labour market every day in hope of getting work at a construction site. They were hard-pressed for their daily needs.

Then Somvati took her first loan of 7000 to buy a hand cart and they started selling Chole – Kulche. Suraj Pal would take his cart and would roam around in adjoining localities to sell. This is where they took the first step towards becoming entrepre- neurs. Their new business started off well and they took the second loan of 15000, with this loan they bought a small wooden shack (thiya) by the road- side and instead of walking around the whole day they had a fixed place in an adjoining community.

Their hard work proved successful, they repaid the loan and took the third loan of 19000. They used this loan to expand items on their menu and bought a scooter engine fitted rickshaw to carry their stuff from home to the shop and from market to the shop. Having repaid the loan they took the fourth loan of 35000 and used the money to make a small dhaba serving a full menu i.e. not limited to a few items. In the due course of time they could also save some money to buy a small piece of land back at their native village in District Meerut.

Somvati and Suraj Pal have four children with the eldest one being 25 years and the youngest and only daugh- ter 14 years. The elder ones help in the business and the younger two go to school. They have repaid the fourth loan and are now looking forward to the fifth loan. The plan is to use the fifth loan to diversify, they plan to start another dhaba in another location, which would be managed by their eldest son Radhey Shyam who is married and has kids of his own.

Somvati and Suraj Pal both have seen things change for them in these past six years, and they vehemently attribute this to Shikhar. They say that, ‘Shikhar has fulfilled its commitment made to us’, and they value the institution for being honest in all the communications made to them. In fact they said that there were other MFI’s that came and are now working in their communi- ty and they had their experience with them but now find their comfort with Shikhar. They say they are hopeful of their future because Shikhar stands with them ‘achhe din.’