There are not many women like Seema Jaiswal in Chapra
I used to rarely step out of my house. Whenever an unfamiliar guest would visit our house, I would go away from the living room. I was hesitant in meeting new people and strike a conversation and very uncomfortable in approaching a new situation,” said Seema Jaiswal. She is a leading clothing entrepreneur from Chapra district in Bihar.
Jaiswal was born to a middle-class joint family in Muzaffarpur district’s Amnour block. In 2001, at the age of 24, she got married to Nilesh Kumar Jaiswal, a resident of Kathari Bagh in Chapra. In 2004, Nilesh inherited a small shop named Libas from his father situated in the city’s Sahebganj market.
Over the years with his dedication and persistent hard work, he converted the small shop into a mart. In 2014, as the business expanded, Nilesh turned towards Seema and sought her help, which became an opportunity to set off on her own journey as an entrepreneur.
“Entering the field of business was the turning point in my life. I grew up in a rural environment and knew nothing about banking and finance. With the hand-holding support of my husband I learnt all the nitty-gritty of running a business. He explained everything in detail. Now my entire focus is on business. It wouldn’t be wrong to say that my shop and business are my soul,” expressed Seema while recollecting her transition.
Today, Seema regulates and manages the stock, inventory, and the accounts of the mart. Once hesitant to speak to new people, now she is required to deliver the best client services. She has been handling the mart so well that her husband has opened up another clothing shop which he looks after.
Seema has overcome a lot of challenges in establishing herself as a businesswoman. Her relatives and neighbors disapproved of her association with the shop. “It was not a regular thing for a daughter-in-law in a small town to step out of her house and take care of the business. There were times when I used to reach home at 11 pm in the night. Many friends and relatives of Nilesh taunted him that he was making a ‘woman of the house’ sit in the shop. But my father-in-law, and husband supported me thoroughly along the way,” Seema said.
She handles both the shop and the chores of the house. After a busy day at the shop, she also takes out time to cook and teach her children. Although simultaneously managing the business and doing the household chores adds up to the burden, she is determined to handle both.
Seema has a supportive family that motivates her to explore and learn. Talking about the support she provides, her husband said that, “I always wanted to run a big business in Chapra. There came a time when my brother, my manager, and my staff stopped supporting me and I thought of selling the mart. However, with Seema’s guidance and support I could convince and build a positive relation with my staff, and how to move ahead in business,” Nilesh said.
According to Seema, she has learnt a lot from business and also understood that giving up is not an option. She believes that it is difficult to solve a problem if we look at it as a challenge. If we consider it as a responsibility, the path will become easier and the problem will be solved. “Neither did I study much nor do I have any professional degree, yet I never gave up or got helpless in front of the narrow-minded and frustrated perspective of society,” Seema said. Her message to other women is: “If I can do it, why can’t you?”
The author is from Chapra, Bihar (Charkha Features)