Overcoming barriers, building bridges, showing others the way
Priyanka Subarno, Ranchi, Jharkhand
December 7, 2017

Taron Dodrai, an entrepreneur at the village level service centre located in Torpa Block, Zaria Panchayat, in Jharkhand’s Pagti District, has proved that strong will and a determination to learn can remove all language barriers and also build bridges. Her strong spirit and learning skills sets her apart from others

With three siblings and a childhood without a mother, it was a challenge for Taron Dodrai every day. Being the eldest sister in a family struggling financially, education had become insignificant. To meet the dietary requirements of the family, she made puffed rice which generated an income of about Rs 500 to Rs 1000. She also bought silver jewellery by selling puffed rice but due to financial problems she had to sell all her jewellery.

Married when she was only 17, in 1997, Taron faced difficulties to fulfil her family food requirements for her husband was a poor labourer. After two years, she migrated to Himachal Pradesh and Gujarat along with him. He worked as a daily wage labourer in road construction there. In Gujarat, both of them worked as labourers in a printing press.

Language has the ability_2
Taron Dodrai (left) at the village level service centre, selling goods to a customer.

It was difficult for Taron to communicate in Gujarati as she only knew her mother tongue (Mundari). It was then that she became friends with some of the young girls who taught her Hindi, which made communication for her a little easier. Expressing her feelings at that time, she says, “Seeing poverty all round me, I decided that I will not let the problem of poverty get the better of me. I will make sure that I come out of it and I will help others too.”

Taron also wanted better living standards for her family so that her children could study in good schools. She herself was unable to go to school due to financial problems. With savings of more than Rs 10000 from work in Himachal Pradesh and Gujarat, and being able to make puffed rice, she was able to sustain a source of income for her family.

However, Taron was scared that her husband would spend the money on alcohol and that led her to try open a savings bank account. But she was not able to since she did not have a ration or Aadhar card. After returning to Jharkhand in 2015, Taron became a member of the self-help group in her village. She decided to open a bank account with the SHG, which she continues to access regularly.

Today, Taron is a successful entrepreneur and is running a village level service centre set up with the help of an NGO – Udyogini. The service centre caters to many of the needs of the villagers.

According to the CEO of Udyogini, Arvind Malik, “We have worked in Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, Jharkhand, Uttarakhand, Bihar and Odisha. Udyogini conducted a 5 day training program in 2015 under I-USE (Intel Udyogini School of Entrepreneurship) and Young Women Social Entrepreneurship Development Programme for which mobilisation was being conducted at Taron’s village and she was identified for the enterprise training by the field staff. For her, it was an opportunity and she registered herself for training. During the training provided to her, she learnt about strategising the activities at her village level service centre.”

Adds Taron, “The sessions on marketing have helped me a lot while negotiating with traders. The training enabled me to understand how demands of the community can be fulfilled.”

Because she had studied only till Class 1, Taron decided to participate in the women’s literacy programme conducted by Udyogini, which would help her to run her service centre and to maintain the required registers. She spent a lot of time at the women’s literacy centre and learned basic mathematics to maintain her daily sales and purchases.
After some time, Taron’s husband started suffering from mental illness and most of her savings were spent on his treatment. She managed to set aside Rs 5000, which she invested to open her village service centre. She believes that through her enterprise she can help other women and families like her overcome difficulties.

Taron’s monthly average profit amounts to about Rs 2000 a month. She invests Rs 3000-3500 a month in purchasing material for her service centre. After aiding the community with retail services, she has expanded her services to being a stockist of tamarind. This has enabled producers in receiving fair price for their produce, further saving time and income which was earlier spent on going to the market.

Taron is not only a retailer and a stockist, but also a social entrepreneur who makes sure the stoves burn at her homee as well as at the farmer’s whose produce is bought by her at her service center. She understands that the service centre is beneficial for her and for her fellow villagers. She belives that if you have a plan and the skills to do any work, then there is no barrier that can stop you.

(Courtesy: Charkha Features)

October 2017