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‘I Earn Rs 30000/Month Now’: How a Domestic Help Started a Business With Help From Her Employer

Started in the apartment where she works as a domestic help, Assam's Priya Chhetri runs a small business to sell exotic fruits and nuts, with help from her employer. This International Women’s Day, let this story inspire you to #helpthemback.

‘I Earn Rs 30000/Month Now’: How a Domestic Help Started a Business With Help From Her Employer

Standing outside the clinic in Gurugram, Priya Chhetri was worried about her husband’s health who often complained of stomach aches. While the couple was bearing the brunt of rising medical expenses, they also had the responsibility of their family of 10 back in their village in Assam.

“While the expenses kept on rising, our collective incomes didn’t. My husband works as an office boy and whatever he earns gets exhausted in meeting my in-law’s expenses,” the 24-year-old, who works as a domestic help, tells The Better India.

“Meanwhile, my salary would be exhausted in meeting the household expenses. Living in Gurgaon is an expensive affair. It would cost me up to Rs 10,000 to Rs 12,000 per month in addition to the medical expenses. It was getting extremely difficult for us to manage daily expenses, let alone save anything for the future,” she adds.

In a bid to earn an additional income, Priya set up a small business to sell exotic fruits and nuts. Started in the condominium where she works as a domestic help, today she has managed to earn a strong customer base of 250 people in Gurugram.

#HelpThemBack

This International Women’s Day, we sat down with her to track the inspirational journey that took her on the path to financial independence.

When the opportunity knocks

Coming from a humble agricultural background in Chalsa village, near Siliguri, Priya got married at the age of 18. “My family is into sericulture but that does not earn a stable income — only once in six months. Also, because of the rising human-elephant conflict, it has become difficult for villagers to do any work. Usually, people move out to cities for stable jobs. We did the same after our marriage,” she says.

In 2022, Priya and her husband set up a small business to sell exotic fruits and nuts.
In 2022, Priya and her husband set up a small business to sell exotic fruits and nuts.

In 2019, the newlywed couple moved to Gurugram for work. “After two years, I started working as a domestic help for Rashi didi [current employer],” says Priya who could only study till Class 11.

While both of them secured jobs, they would often exhaust all their incomes by the tenth of every month. This worried not only Priya but also her employer Rashi Soman.

“We were trying to find a supplementary income option for her and her husband. At the same time, I realised that we spent an exorbitant amount on fruits and vegetables, which we buy from the stores in Gurgaon. Even then the quality of fruits was not up to the mark. We thought the same could be sourced fresh and at a relatively better price from the Delhi mandi. This seemed like a good option as we had seen others also spend so much on sub-standard nuts and fruits,” Rashi tells The Better India.

On learning about this new opportunity to earn an additional income, Priya decided to set up this small business. So with Rashi’s help, Priya bought around 10 pieces of avocados from the mandi and distributed them to residents in the apartment. “With this, I earned a profit of Rs 300. I was just so happy to earn this additional amount,” she smiles.

The couple sells 30 kinds of exotic fruits and nuts — including red globe grapes, blueberry, mandarins, cranberries, and more.
The couple sells 30 kinds of exotic fruits and nuts — including red globe grapes, blueberries, mandarins, cranberries, and more.

Initially, Rashi went along with Priya to help her identify the market trends and the right fruit vendors in the Azadpur mandi — one of the largest fruits and vegetables markets in Delhi. After initial hiccups, Priya and her husband tied up with local vendors and started purchasing a wide range of fruits in bulk to be sold to households at relatively low prices compared to stores.

“When we visited the market, we understood that the price difference was so significant that even after a small mark-up, our fruits were cheaper. Plus, I would deliver fresh fruits on the same day of purchase. It was a win-win for both customers and us,” she adds.

Rashi continues to inform that every Thursday, she pitches in the household chores so that Priya has time to cater to all the orders.
Rashi continues to inform that every Thursday, she pitches in the household chores so that Priya has time to cater to all the orders.

Today, the couple has expanded their range of products to 30 kinds of exotic fruits and nuts — including red globe grapes, blueberry, mandarins, golden and green kiwis, cashews, walnuts, figs, dates, hazelnuts, cranberries, and more.

Taking orders through Google Forms

Alongside fulfilling her domestic help duties, Priya manages to run the business. Every Thursday, she leaves for the mandi at 5 am and purchases fruits and nuts in bulk. Around noon, she reaches Rashi’s house and starts packaging the fruits and nuts based on the orders. By 4 pm, Sanjit loads the packets and starts delivering them to the households. After an exhausting day, the couple winds up the work by 10 pm and starts counting the earnings of the day.

“On average, I am able to earn a profit of up to Rs 30,000 in a month,” says Priya with pride.

Through Rashi’s help, Priya and Sanjit also set up a WhatsApp group of 250 residents. Every Sunday, she mentions the availability of fruits and nuts along with their prices on the Whatsapp group for delivery on Thursday.

“We have created a simple Google Form where anyone can easily place an order. The details are stored in an Excel sheet in the backend. I help Priya generate a simple document using simple formulae that consolidates household level order details including the customer phone numbers, locations, and orders in kg,” Rashi tells The Better India.

Looking at her transformation from the old days, Priya wishes to encourage other women like her.
Looking at her transformation from the old days, Priya wishes to encourage other women like her.

“Every Thursday, I move all my furniture aside to keep all the fruits for packaging. My young children also pitch in to deliver orders on their bicycles and earn Rs 5-10 per delivery. With this, my children are also learning the basics of entrepreneurship, the value of money, and above all importance of inclusive growth,” she adds.

Rashi continues to inform that every Thursday, she pitches in the household chores so that Priya has time to cater to all the orders. “There has not been a single day when I haven’t received hot food. Priya makes sure that this work doesn’t affect household duties. Earlier, we would worry about how they’ll fend for themselves when they don’t have any savings. But today, I take pride that Priya has earned financial freedom as well as popularity. She is so enthusiastic,” she says.

She then adds, “Our house helps have aspirations beyond our kitchen and homes. If we just recognise them and give them that little push, then the sky is the limit. We just need to act as a small catalyst in helping such women achieve their aspirations.”

Meanwhile, Priya says she has not only learnt to set up the small business but also to ensure a sustainable financial future for her family. “Whenever I get big profits, I deposit all my money. With this work, I have been able to establish an identity for myself. I also got a kitchen refurbished in our village home and bought a double bed for my home here,” she says.

Abhi tension nahi hai (I don’t have to worry about anything now). We do not have to worry how much we are spending on our village home and how much we are able to save to secure our future,” she adds.

Looking at her transformation from the old days, Priya wishes to encourage other women like her. “What was I earlier and what am I now! I believe other women can also start small businesses for additional income sources. It is all about your hard work and the community support with which you can achieve financial freedom like I did,” she says.

If you reside in Gurugram, you can join her WhatsApp group and place orders here.

#HelpThemBack

(Edited by Pranita Bhat; All photos: Rashi Soman)

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