Today is a big day at the Bangalore office – we had seven entrepreneurs coming in to sign their contracts and receive their first cheques.
The first to arrive is Raziya, a young entrepreneur who provides nutritious low-cost food to industrial workers in a remote area in Mysore, Karnataka. She is accompanied by her husband and four year old daughter. She sits down with her husband and reads through the contract in detail while the little girl explores the office. Matilda then sits down with Raziya to discuss the contract with her and hands over her cheque on signing the contract. Raziya has a shy smile but when she’s talking about her business, the smile becomes bigger and more confident.
The next to come in is Nishaat, an entrepreneur from Anekal, Karnataka, who, with an investment from Be! Fund, plans to scale up her organic dyeing business and create many more jobs for women in her community. Nishaat has a smile that lights up the entire room when she walks in. Matilda gives her the contract to go through, then sits down with her to discuss it and address her doubts, and gives her the cheque on signing the contract. Nishaat gives chocolates to everyone in the office, telling us ‘mooh mitha kijiye’ (sweeten your mouth) – wishing for a sweet and auspicious beginning for her business.
Lakshmi is a young entrepreneur who rents out silk mounts to the silk farmers in her region. She comes from Yerendappahalli in Kanakapura, Ramanagar District, Karnataka. Lakshmi walks in with a confident stride, and gives me a professional handshake. She is calm and composed. Her husband walks behind her with an excited grin. He patiently waits in another room while Lakshmi goes through the contract with Matilda, puts her signature, and collects her cheque. She then sits down with Raziya and Nishaat and the three women get into an animated discussion about their businesses.
While the women have loud and animated discussions, Shripal sits quietly and goes through his contract. Shripal is an entrepreneur from Bidare Village in Tumkur District, Karnataka. His business help sthe farmers in his village by providing them with pump-set lifting and repair service. He brought two of his friends with him who want to know more about Be! Fund. After Matilda discusses the contract with him and hands him over his cheque, she talks to his friends about Be! Fund, with Shripal pitching in about his own experience.
Next up is Bhanuprakash, a young entrepreneur from Gujjenahalli Village in Tumkur District, Karnataka. Bhanuprakash plans to use the Be! Fund investment to start a vegetable nursery for the farmers in his village. Bhanuprakash has a gentle manner and a quiet smile. He studies the contract in great detail, signs it and collects his cheque. Sitting with him is Rama, the “Spice Lady” from Bangalore. Rama makes unadulterated home-made spices which she supplies to households and small businesses. She has a confident attitude, asks a lot of questions, and engages in a long and detailed discussion before signing the contract and taking her cheque.
The last entrepreneur for the day is Arif. Arif lives in Hussain Saab Palya, a low-income village with limited employment opportunities. He plans to start an embroidery business ito provide employment to the village young people who are skilled in embroidery, but unemployed. Arif is a soft-spoken man, but as he starts talking about his plans for the business, you cannot miss the excitement in his voice.
It was a busy and interesting day, I am going to go home with a smile on my face. It’s great fun to meet the entrepreneurs face to face (I have just been reading their business plans so far), talk to them about their business ideas, and experience their commitment and passion for their business. These are our heroes in the making.
The Be! team wishes these entrepreneurs all the very best. You can be sure that you will be hearing more about them in the upcoming months in this space!