60-year-old Manjula Vaghela, used to pick papers on city streets for the sake of living and earned only Rs.5 per day, until 1981. But working on cold and rainy days was not possible. During those days this measly income would also elude her.
Today, Manjula earns a huge amount of Rs.1 crore per annum. She is the head of a cleaners’ cooperative which includes 400 members, who provide cleaning and also housekeeping services to 45 institutions in Ahmedabad.
It took five years to convince authorities to register their cooperative as they were selling a service and not any products. Saundarya Mandali has not left any stone unturned as they went through several levels of training all these years.
They have also offered services during Vibrant Gujarat summits, which won them accolades. They also provide cleaning services in institutions of national repute and residential societies.
All the women out there are former paper pickers. They used to pick papers, put them in gunny bags, lift them on backs and walk to the bins. Now, they work with modern equipments that include road cleaners, vacuum cleaners, high-jet pressure, scrubbers and extractors. They really do a great job in cleaning.
Their target after hitting the Rs.1 crore was to teach the illiterate women some technological operations, so they become tech-savvy and crack the e-tendering process. Hemaben Parmar, who is associated with Saundarya Mandali for the last 20 years, says, “Today companies and institutes issue e-tender for contracts and job work which we find difficult to fill as we are technologically challenged. But we shall overcome this too.” Hats off to the will power of new India.