Rakhi found her calling as a beautypreneur after dabbling in eclectic subjects like political science and mathematics. However, no past experience could have prepared her for the fallouts of the COVID-19 pandemic

Before Rakhi Zamre opened a beauty parlour in her village, Chandikapur, Maharashtra, she had experimented with a lot of things. She graduated in political science, taught math for six years, and had even designed and sold sarees. When Rakhi set up her beauty-parlour, she brought together all of her experience to set-up a successful business. 

However, nothing had prepared her to face the pandemic. Before the lockdown, Rakhi’s clientele came from far and wide due to her reputation. But COVID-19 forced her to impose strict restrictions and she only catered to people from her village. “I wanted to ensure the highest degree of safety for my most loyal customers who are from my village,” she said, adding that she regularly disinfects her establishment and ensures everything is sanitized.

COVID-19 crippled Rakhi’s revenues in two big ways – she lost her clients from the neighbouring villages and also from wedding and bridal events. In March, which is a peak wedding season, seven to-be-brides cancelled her services. This important revenue source drying up meant a cash crunch for Rakhi as she could make up to ₹10,000 from one bridal service — an amount she would otherwise earn over the course of a month.

The cash crunch made it difficult to keep running the parlour. One needs to replace beauty products as they have limited shelf life, repair or replace electric equipment, and refurbish infrastructure to get clients to keep coming back. Rakhi desperately needed a loan to upgrade her parlour but traditional bank loans had high interest rates that she couldn’t afford. 

Rakhi kept in touch with her NGO advisor, Pratham, where she got trained under the beautypreneur programme in 2017. The team informed her about Samhita’s REVIVE Alliance, supported by Godrej. Through REVIVE, Rakhi applied for a ₹10,000 returnable grant and will be using the money to purchase parlour equipment such as chairs and blow dryers. Like Rakhi, over 500 beautypreneurs have already availed financial support through REVIVE and over 96% of them make regular repayments. “I am confident my customer volumes will increase in the coming months as I improve my parlour and I will be able to repay the loan,” said Rakhi, as she prepared her parlour to make the post-pandemic world a more beautiful and confident place for women.

This story was edited by Raveena Joseph