45-year old Chandra, is the proprietor of a tailoring unit in Karur District. “I cannot afford to pay my staff their full wages; but I pay them 50% of their pay, even though some of them are not coming to work.” Chandra believes that her employees are the foundation of her enterprise, and with their support the business has seen tremendous growth in the last four years.
She moved out from her home-based business seven years ago to set up a tailoring unit with the help of her spouse and son.
The revenue from this micro business is their primary source of income. Prior to the lockdown, she led a staff of 15 employees. With tailoring orders dwindling during the lockdown coupled with travel restrictions faced by her employees, only six of them are actively engaged in work.
Her lifestyle has not changed much as she juggles her time between household and business responsibilities. She wakes up at 6 a.m. every day to attend to household chores, and then heads to her shop. By 8.30 p.m., she shuts up her shop and heads back home. What has changed now? “We used to see a healthy fluctuation of a cash in- flow – with peak and lean periods based on seasonality. Since March (2020), business has been consistently slow, this is a concerning factor.” On being asked if they leveraged any government support, she said “Banks are a mediator for us to avail schemes. Though, approaching them is a long-winding process at times. I wish it was not that hard.”
“Everything is so uncertain that nothing can be said about the future. But we are taking a long-view
of the situation and planning for the next four months. Nothing can be normal this year, but surely from 2021, we will be back on track! Meanwhile, being empathetic with your staff will help.”