Kulsoom Bibi is a resident of Chak 155 W/B, Vehari and a successful entrepreneur, running her own handicrafts business that is able to generate 100-150,000 worth of revenues every month. All the women of the house work together to support a large family, and their business has become very popular, especially during the wedding season.
From a young age, Kulsoom recalls her father making a living as a food vendor, while her mother used to do small-time embroidery and stitching. With a large family of 9 people, life was never easy. There was frequent scarcity of food, water, and money, but fortunately, they all had a roof over their heads. The parents could not afford the expenses of education, hence the kids mostly stayed at home and helped with house chores. Kulsoom being the eldest of the siblings was often seen working with her mother, cooking, cleaning, and taking care of younger siblings. Within modest means, Kulsoom was married to a man who was a mason by profession, hence, there were days when there was no work at all. Frustrated and annoyed with the state of affairs, she was determined to make things better.
She came to know of AGAHE Pakistan through a friend, and applied for a loan to start her own handicrafts business. With the first loan, she immediately bought some raw materials, and rather than just working on clothes, she decided to work instead on fancy pillow covers, bags, quilts, fans, prayer mats, etc, all made by hand. Her work was flawless and highly presentable, and was noticed by other women in the community. Sooner than anticipated, she began to receive customized orders, and her financial situation began to improve. The business picks up during the wedding season with sales in the range of 100-150 thousand a month. Her sisters and mother also help when large and urgent orders are received. Over the last four years, she is single handedly taking care of the entire family, while her husband works with her father as a mason. Kulsoom loves what she does as it is not very time consuming, and has loyal customers from the neighborhood.
Looking ahead, Kulsoom plans to build a small display centre within her home, where she can exhibit her products for people to see as they walk by her house.
Looking back, money was always an issue. Everything was about money, she says. She had a skill that was passed on to her by her mother, a skill that just needed to be exploited. That was made possible with a little investment acquired from AGAHE Pakistan. As opposed to just taking a loan for consumption and then worrying about repayment, she is in favor of small business loans, which more often than not, are successful in the long run.