Of entrepreneurship, community service and freedom

  • 27 March, 2017

By Ali Mohammad Shahwani

“Starting a small business was a dream for me, because as I had always felt that the shop owner near my house is a free man”, says Tara Bagri, a micro entrepreneur who has just opened his own small shop after having spent years working as a labourer on farm fields, and then as a part-time employee at a local shop.

Tara Bagri is a bright and soft spoken young man sitting in his small cabin-cum-shop which he opened with his personal savings and a loan from his friend.

“I remember that morning when, instead of going to school, I had to  follow my father to the landlord’s field to work. My friends were going to school at that time. It was a sad day in my life and I still remember the tears in my eyes, but that is the reality of life for a poor man. There is no option but to be strong enough and do the work which is in front of you”, Tara says.

Later, Tara became an assistant at a shop. “I used to see the shop owner every day. I was inspired by the level of freedom that he had; he had no dependence on others, and was always shown great respect by fellow villagers. I used to think all the time that one day I will have my own shop and free my family from the hardship of labouring”.

Tara worked at the shop for seven long years. His first monthly salary was Rs. 1,700. Tara worked hard and honestly and over the years his monthly salary increased to Rs. 9,000. Tara felt that he has amassed enough experience to run his own shop. Then, using his own savings and taking a Rs. 7,500 loan from a friend, Tara purchased a small cabin to start his shop.

Tara was well known in the wholesale market and this enabled him to secure Rs. 10,000 worth of goods on credit and stock up his shop. Apart from selling shop items, sometimes Tara would also store wheat at harvest time and sell later when prices soared. Tara managed to return his loan to his friend and feels quite happy and contented.

Tara had various ideas to enhance his business and to compete more effectively in the local market. However, he lacked capital. He convinced his father to sell a small plot of land and bought a shop Khandu Stop.

In April 2016, a team from the National Rural Support Programme (NRSP) visited the area for conducting the poverty score card census. Tara supported the survey team and, later on, when the Social Mobilisation activities started, he helped mobilise the community, urging them to cooperate with the team and form Community Organisations.

Through this dedicated work, Tara was soon seen as a potential candidate to become the local Community Resource Person (CRP). After selection as a CRP, Tara was trained on Community Investment Fund (CIF) and Community Awareness Toolkit (CAT) under the European Union funded SUCCESS Programme. The training further enhanced Tara’s financial management skills.

Tara’s new shop is doing well as it is near the local bus stop. He plans to expand his business further in the future.

“Today I am happy for I am independent. I am free. My sad days are over. While I am planning to further improve my business, I am also helping my community to foster Community Organisations, to hold meetings and to generate savings. So, you can say that today I am double happy”, Tara concludes.

The contributor is District M&R Officer, Tando Allahyar & Matiari.

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