BY ASAVARI KULKARNI
The multifaceted Chitra Kshirsagar from Taleigao, Goa, stands as a shining example to housewives by turning a skill into a successful entrepreneurial venture.
A leading name in the field of Marathi literature in Goa, Chitra has won more than a dozen awards in the field of literature and an equal number for her contribution towards social services. She is affiliated with many well-known institutions in the field of literature and social work, both in Goa as well as in Maharashtra. She is part of the Goa Livelihoods Forum, an NGO working for women.
Born in the Pandharpur district of Maharashtra, Chitra married Prakash Kshirsagar, a journalist and sub-editor of Dainik Gomantak. Born and brought up in a strict orthodox environment Chitra, came to Goa with a lot of dreams. Those dreams, however, did not culminate into reality.
The realisation that she could not depend solely upon her husband’s income to achieve her dreams, dawned upon her.
Although highly qualified, with a postgraduate degree in Marathi literature and a bachelor’s in education, her qualifications could not aid her in obtaining a government job in Goa. The reason was that she did not have the residential certificate and other documents required for such jobs.
She then started taking up various jobs like beading sarees and making the falls, beading dupattas, making paper envelopes for medical shops, peeling garlic for vegetable shops, etc. The little money she earned helped her stabilise her monthly budget.
THE ENTREPRENEURIAL JOURNEY
One day there was a huge setback in Chitra’s life, which consequently proved to be a breakthrough in her entrepreneurial journey; her husband lost his job. Dejected and defeated, she stood near a general store below her apartment. Here she observed a man buying wheat flour in large quantities from the general store.
Her curiosity aroused, Chitra asked the general store owner for the man’s contact number and, as luck would have it, the man himself came to the store just then. At this point, Chitra had become aware that there were many Maharashtrians like her in Goa. They were still partial to chapatis (Indian flatbread made of wheat flour) in their daily meal and would not mind paying some extra money for some.
So, Chitra made a contract with the person who bought wheat flour from the general store to supply chapatis. She would take flour from the man and provide chapatis to different hotels and individual persons every day.
From here onwards, Chitra did not look back. She, by herself, was making about 1500 chapatis per day before the lockdown in 2020. She went on to train ladies who would require some extra income to run their households. In doing so, she created livelihoods for more than 70 ladies in the Taleigao area.
PANDEMIC AND EMPOWERMENT
Together with these 70 ladies, she began producing more than 35,000 chapatis per day, supplying these to big hotels, beach shacks, etc. This business brought stability to her life and also to the many families she had trained.
The lockdown during the corona pandemic threw a spanner in the works, resulting in the demand for chapatis being almost reduced to half. Still, the experience she and the women trained by her have gained in all these years has helped to identify more pathways of the kind to earn their daily bread.
SELF-HELP GROUP AND NGOs
Chitra started training self-help groups through different NGOs. Being sensitive to the issues of women, she also began training needy women all over Goa. Together with the NGOs, she has helped many women to start their own food stalls in Panaji.
While being responsible for establishing more than 165 self-help groups all over Goa, Chitra has also used her writing skills and begun contributing to leading Marathi dailies and magazines.
POETRY, BOOKS AND AWARDS
Chitra has also published books on poetry, women entrepreneurs and other important topics, and has won awards for the same. She has been invited to many literature festivals to recite her poems and also to share her experience in the field of female empowerment.
Having lived for the last 30 years in Goa, she has raised two highly educated and successful sons, and her husband has established himself as a renowned ghazal writer.
Chitra’s life story is a true inspiration for those who wish to embark on a journey as entrepreneurs. But more than that, her story is one of resilience and never being defeated by hardship – a life lesson for people tempted to give in to despair.