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Born in the Kukadsar village of Gujarat’s Kutch, education was a distant dream for Pabiben. Her mother, Tejuben, was a young widow struggling to raise three daughters. Being the eldest, Pabiben decided to alleviate her burden by fetching water for the villagers.
All for a meagre wage of Re 1.
Today, this tribal Rabari woman is a renowned entrepreneur who runs Pabiben.com, an artisan enterprise that empowers tribal women to become economically independent and keeps the Rabari embroidery tradition alive.
While she never had the privilege to hold a book, as a young girl armed with a needle and vibrant threads, Pabiben learned the art of traditional Rabari embroidery from her mother.
It was a custom in the community where women would take embroidered pieces as dowry to the homes of their husbands. So girls stayed back at their parental homes to finish those pieces. When the village elders realised that this was leading to late marriages, they banned embroidery for personal use.
The move seemed to ease girls off the burden only on the surface, but Pabiben realised that it would also affect the community and its chance to display its craft.
To keep the Rabari tradition alive, she mobilised women in the community and invented a new art form with the machine application of ready-made elements, known as ‘Hari Jari’. For the first time in the Dhebaria community, a woman had experimented with vibrant combinations of trims and ribbons.
The embroidery soon became popular with the moniker ‘Pabi Jari’ and the first accessory she made out of it was a sample shopping bag. An instant hit, it was christened the ‘Pabi Bag’!
Her husband was a steady supporter of her dreams from the start. With his help, she became the first woman from her community to launch the online e-commerce platform, Pabiben.com.
Today, alongside women artisans in her village, she sells a range of products like purses and bags, toiletry kits, dhurries, files, quilts, cushion covers, etc.
Her designs have crossed the borders of Kutch to be featured in Bollywood and Hollywood films, with customers from around the globe!
But was this journey to success easy?
Of course not.
When she first started, the women in her village weren’t even allowed to go outside their homes, let alone going outside the village to sell items. When she started travelling all over India for exhibitions, people ridiculed her husband, saying, “If you give so much freedom to your wife, she will run away one day.”
Her husband gave a deaf ear to these baseless comments. The same people who once rebuked her, now sing her praises and say that they are proud of her achievements.
Pabiben’s story is a testimony to how setting a goal and working hard to attain it can make the biggest difference, not only to one’s own life but to the lives of an entire community.
Many of us struggle to achieve our financial goals, mainly because we lack the focus and the consistency while investing. It is observed that investors like to invest in equity mutual funds when markets are bullish and scare away when the markets reverse. Had Pabiben done that, she would have never been successful.
Like her, each investor must focus on her goals with determination, irrespective of the market situation, till the goal is reached. Remember, life and markets both have their ups and downs. If we decide to choose only the up-cycle in the market and discontinue investing in the down-cycle, we will miss out on the opportunity to lower the average purchase price–a key ingredient to creating wealth over longer periods, along with the power of compounding.
“Giving up was never an option for me, no matter how hard the circumstances. Each of us is fighting our own battles. But as long as we are determined to remain steadfast, we will reach our goal. My husband has been a pillar of support in my life. In a community where women are not supposed to step outside the home, he stood with me as I chased my dream. They say that behind every successful man is a woman, but in my case, it is clearly my husband who deserves this credit,” she signs off.
Watch her journey here:
(Edited by Shruti Singhal)
Disclaimer: An Investor Education and Awareness Initiative by Franklin Templeton Mutual Fund. Mutual Fund investments are subject to market risks, read all scheme related documents carefully.