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How Online Sales Helped A New-To-Business Woman Set Up A Successful Sales Enterprise

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In seeking to augment her family’s finances, a young woman earns her stripes as a successful home-based entrepreneur through online sales.

Sometimes, challenging moments in our lives push us into doing something we would never imagine – such as setting up an online home décor and party accessories business. Sometimes, adversities in our lives sometimes open a whole new window to the world of business opportunities.

Earlier, as a homemaker, I used to be occupied throughout the day. Meanwhile, my husband worked as an accountant in a real estate company – and was our family’s sole source of income. Everything was hunky-dory until 2015-16, when the slowdown in realty affected his company. As a result, our finances were badly impacted, too.

Creating An Alternative Income Stream

Given our growing children and mounting expenses, we had to find an alternative source of income. That is when I decided to step in and start my own business, despite the preconception of not being privy to the nuances of running any business. The business journey began when my nephew suggested starting an online business, since it entailed minimal investments. While familiar with online shopping, I never thought I could be on the other side of the fence.

Image has been provided by the author.

Besides, business would be a wholly new world for me since I couldn’t continue my studies after Class 2. Nevertheless, I was clear about what I needed to do. With my husband’s support, I took the plunge. My neighbourhood friends who were already selling online recommended us to start the business on e-commerce portals, since it requires low investment. There has been a surge in online purchases by consumers, and so, it enables our business to have easy access to consumers nationwide.

Before taking the plunge, we had our apprehensions about the lack of skillset to start a business, but we were fortunate to have good and reliable resources to help us shape our dream. Their sound guidance was indeed very helpful to build a business that’s successfully running today.

We applied for a TIN and registered on Snapdeal in October 2016. That was the turning point in our lives.

The seamless, speedy listing process boosted my confidence that I was on the right path. Whenever we had any doubts or questions, the sellers help team would guide us, teaching us the basics of doing business online.

As I kept trying many different kinds of products, I learnt what sold well and at what price points. Gradually, I understood the importance of right assortment and quality to grow our business. To date, I personally select every item uploaded online and look at every functioning. The best part of online business is the positive effect of customer ratings on the growth of our business. Customers seek genuine, value-for-money products.

While I began with a limited range of 7-8 products, today I have more than 700 items live on the site and they keep on increasing. The entire business runs on an extremely smooth backend process. New products are taken live within 30 minutes of uploading and orders begin trickling in the same day.

Prompt Payment And Other Benefits

Another major benefit of dealing with e-commerce platforms concerns payments, for example checking if payments are received quickly and accurately. This can help in managing capital and investments better. When I started out, we had little money to invest and making long-term plans was difficult due to limited cash flow. But prompt payments and the transparent process allowed us to know what and when to expect.

Although I started small, the right choice and assortment of products have started reflecting in my growth numbers. From a single platform, I have been shipping 450 orders on an average every month. Thanks to this, my business has grown by 300% in the first year itself.

Initially, it felt unreal to be able to do so much business while sitting inside my room. I enjoy the flexibility of the time and pace of my work, which is important for me as a homemaker-cum-entrepreneur. As the business settled down, my husband quit his job and joined me grow it.

Having begun from a small room, the business is now catering to customers across the country, especially South and North-east India. It is exciting when I pack and ship products to Meghalaya, Nagaland, Sikkim and other places. The strong delivery network in e-commerce has taken our brand to regions we could have never imagined reaching.

I also received the Snapdeal Seller Excellence Gold Award as an acknowledgement of my success as a businessperson. This is the first certificate or accolade I have ever received. With no academic or business background, a business career was not on the cards and I had never looked beyond my household responsibilities earlier.

But e-commerce opened doors to a new world for me. My business has taken off and is doing well as a brand that resonates strongly with people. At the age of 40, online sales reinforced my belief that if you have the right mindset and commitment to chase your dreams, nothing can limit your success. Undoubtedly, e-commerce has empowered me to become a successful entrepreneur.

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An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

Read more about his campaign.

Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

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MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

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A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Find out more about the campaign here.

A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

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A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

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A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

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A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

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A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform Change.org, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on Change.org has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in Change.org’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

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