She is a stickler for being on time. 32-year-old Sobita Tamuli has never been late in her life, a quality that has served her well. Heading a flourishing establishment that specializes in making organic manure, Sobita has been in the business for 12 years now. When she started out in 2002 in Telana village, a married woman from a small village as hers with little formal education aspiring to be an entrepreneur was something unheard of.
How it all started?
But Sobita always knew she had to be one, a hundred innovative business ideas would swim in her head as she went about with her daily chores at home. Until one day, she decided to test one of them. Together with a handful of other women from her village, Sobita started making organic manure at home. Her brand of manure was simplicity itself, a mixture of cow dung, banana plant, earthworms, khaar and fallen leaves. All materials were locally available as well as financially viable. Today, this brand of organic manure (also called kesuhaar or earthworm manure) is in great demand owing to our consciousness towards growing healthier food products. Both farmers and nurseries buy her brand of organic manure via her Self Help Group Seuji. A 5 kg packet costs Rs 50, roughly the price of a burger in the city.
Foray into Japi making and beyond
Deciding not to rest on her laurels, Sobita ventured into the traditional market of japi making as well. Assam’s japis are arguably the most important cultural icons of the state. The japis that Sobita and her group make are often customised according to an individual or an organisation’s request. Thus, their little workshop is choc-a-bloc with japis of all shapes, sizes, and designs. Not only do the women manufacture the japis themselves, they also sell them in the neighbouring market.
‘Instead of relying on middlemen, we deemed it wiser to do the selling themselves. Also, our main motive is to attract visitors to smaller markets such as ours, and not the other way round,’ says Sobita.
When customers buy their produce from their doorstep or the neighbouring market, it augurs well not only for Sobita and her group, but also for the community at large. ‘A decade back when I had started, there was hardly any encouragement for me. Now, things are different. The whole village is involved in the organic manure and the japi business. They have realised how possibilities live in even seemingly small ideas.’ Next in line for Sobita is an exploration into the Agarbatti market, after all, true entrepreneurs hardly catch a breath in between!