Manjula Vaghela, 60, has come a long way from her days of sorting trash on the streets of Ahmedabad for Rs 5 per day. She now heads a cleaner’s cooperative with a turnover of Rs 1 crore per annum, according to a report.
The company, Sri Saundarya Safai Utkarsh Mahila Sewa Sahkari Mandali Ltd, currently supplies cleaning and housekeeping services to 45 institutions and societies in Ahmedabad. Their first client was with the National Institute Of Design as their first official client, reported the Times of India.
“Next Physical Research Laboratory (PRL) hired 15 of our women,” said Vaghela in the interview. The company at that time had 40 women working for it. Today, it has 400 members, of which the majority of cleaning women are former ragpickers like Vaghela. These women are supplied with quality cleaning equipment such as road cleaners, vacuum cleaners, high-jet pressure, micro-fibre mops, floor cleaners, carpet shampooing machines, scrubbers and extractors.
Saundarya Mandali was born after these (40) women came into contact with Elaben Bhatt-founded Self-Employed Women’s Association (Sewa). “It took five years to convince authorities to register the cooperative as we were selling a service, not a product,” said Vaghela who was at that time the chief supervisor.
Even as they hit that incredible one-crore mark, Saundarya Mandali still has some obstacles to overcome, particularly digital. Hemabhen Parmar, another associate with the cooperative (her mother was also a member, and her daughter works with Sewa), revealed that e-tenders issued by companies for contracts pose a technological challenge, but she was confident that eventually they would cross this barrier as well.
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