How Poonam Set Up A Successful Women Friendly E-Mitra Centre Despite Very Little Education

Poonam was a 5th pass when she got married, but did her 10th with her husband's support. Now she makes E-Mitra services accessible to other women.

When Poonam Kumari got married, little did she know that her husband would be supportive for her to complete her school education till the 10th. Poonam is now stretching her wings in becoming a role model in the fields of digital literacy and entrepreneurship for women around.

In this WomensWebXMahilaMoney impact series, we bring you entrepreneurs like Poonam Kumari who had not just the ambition to grow, but took the steps needed to bring their dreams to fruition. Apply for a loan of up to 25 lakhs to fuel your business growth by downloading the Mahila Money App on Google Playstore or visiting the website here. 

Wandering through the village of Khedla in Alwar district, one residence stands out. A motley group of people patiently line up outside: some need updated PAN cards, while others eagerly submit applications for job cards — an essential gateway to various government schemes. Poonam Kumari is at the centre of a busy scene, efficiently managing the crowd and utilising technology to simplify the complicated process of government paperwork.

Poonam identified a gap in services accessible to women in the village

It all began when Poonam identified a significant gap in the accessible services for women in her village. Many hesitated to step out, constrained by their reliance on male family members.

Seizing this as an opportunity for empowerment and income generation, Poonam delved into digital services. “I learnt from YouTube tutorials and by participating in monthly training sessions, and I transformed my home into a central hub for essential services. Equipped with a tablet and printer provided by the training organisation, my common service centre evolved into a vital resource for the community. My E-Mitra centre offers a range of services, including applications for PAN cards, scholarships, job cards, voter IDs, ration cards, and JANDHAN KYC,” Poonam reveals.

Poonam’s journey from a bride with just 5th grade education to now

In her unexpected journey, education has become more than just a personal achievement for Poonam — it has become a shared aspiration within her family.

She shares, “I had only completed the 5th grade when I married. My husband, who has studied up to the 9th grade, has been a driving force in helping me pursue and pass the 10th grade. And now, he envisions me appearing for the 12th board exams. Maybe I’ll study alongside my kids in my free time.”

Poonam recalls how a senior from her training program advised her to start saving and apply for a loan to upgrade her business setup. Initially, she was hesitant to approach money lenders because of their high interest rates. After visiting other banks etc., Poonam became aware that a collateral was required for a loan. To solve this problem, her senior suggested Mahila Money to her, as a place she would get a loan without this collateral, making her entrepreneurial journey more sustainable and fulfilling.

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Poonam says, “I am glad I got the financial assistance based on my creditworthiness rather than asking for collateral. The subsequent smooth and transparent loan processes further solidified my trust in Mahila Money.”

A Mahila Money loan that gave Poonam the support she needed

With a loan of INR 1 lakh, Poonam strategically invested in purchasing a coloured printer, a lamination machine, an inverter and a laptop. These additions handled not only her operational challenges, such as electricity issues but also the quality and efficiency of her E-Centre’s services. The loan allowed Poonam to overcome financial barriers and upgrade her business infrastructure, unlocking new avenues for income generation.

With the enhanced service offerings, Poonam significantly improved her income from INR 5–7K to a commendable INR 10–12K.

When the black-and-white printer and frequent electricity blackouts started becoming an excuse for her customers to search for better options, Poonam realised that besides offering quality services, having quality infrastructure was another requirement. “The inverter and the coloured printer brought back my customers. The laptop’s convenience has also spread my business to the nearby five villages. Plus, by providing lamination services, I added an extra source of revenue.” It exemplifies the transformative impact that access to financial resources and the right support can have on economic growth, creating a ripple effect of positive change within communities.

Timely repayments, an unbreakable promise Poonam made to herself, ensured a positive credit history and strengthened her credibility with Mahila Money.

“The monthly reminders sent by Mahila Money ensures that I allocate a portion of my income to repay the loan and build a positive credit history. These tiny steps are building my journey to become financially independent,” Poonam shares proudly.

“A better loan than traditional ones”

As she reflects on her journey, Poonam shares invaluable advice for aspiring women entrepreneurs. She says, “Initially, everyone thought how a woman with little formal education and no knowledge of computers could handle important documentation. They questioned my abilities to deliver quality services. Overcoming scepticism, I built trust; thus over a period of time, word of mouth spread the credibility of my services to neighbouring villages. Hence, my first advice would be to take your time and build trust.”

Further, Poonam emphasises steering clear of money lenders, engaging in regular banking transactions to have a good credit history and considering institutions like Mahila Money as reliable sources of financial support.

Poonam’s journey has now gone a step further and ignited a spark of entrepreneurship among other women in her village. Her day goes in generously sharing her knowledge, emphasising the importance of digital literacy, safeguarding personal information, and reporting fraudulent activities to the authorities.

With the seeds of community growth, her community centre has reached out to the nearby five villages with a tech upgrade from a Mahila Money loan.

Looking ahead, Poonam envisions establishing a shop on the main road to enhance discoverability and ensure her children receive a quality education. Her story is lighting the way for countless others to follow their #JiyoApneDumPe dreams, and create lasting change in their communities.

If you are a #JiyoApneDumPe woman entrepreneur who wants to take your business to new heights and needs working capital and entrepreneurship resources, get in touch with the Mahila Money team today.

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Mahila Money

Mahila Money is a neobank for women supporting entrepreneurs with productive capital via loans and a community platform for business success and other financial products like insurance and investments. Mahila Money facilitates loans for businesses, read more...

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