Meet Beautician Bano, a fiercely determined entrepreneur and mother of three, who rose above all odds from sweeping a beauty parlour to owning her own.

Since she was a child, Fairoza was fond of studying and learning new things; but due to familial constraints, she was unable to pursue her dreams of being educated. She was married at the age of 16.

Unfortunately, her marriage was not a happy one. For 12 years Fairoza’s husband, who worked as a rickshaw driver, subjected her to verbal and physical abuse. She described herself as being “treated like a slave”.

Pregnant with her third child and having had enough, she took her two children and packed her bags to leave her husband for good. When she went back to her parents, she did not receive the kind of support that she had hoped for or needed — they were struggling financially and could not afford to feed three more mouths.

When everything seemed to be stacked against her, Fairoza tapped into her inner strength and resolved to tide over the tough times. Only two months after delivering her youngest child, Fairzo started working as a sweeper to support her three children.

Soon, she found employment as housekeeping staff at a beauty parlour. Fairoza was fascinated by all the activities that unfolded in her new place of employment — intricate mehendi designs, precise eyebrow threading, manicures, pedicures and fancy hairstyling. Soon, Fairoza found herself nurturing a new dream — she wanted to own her own beauty parlour someday. In preparation, she would spend hours at the parlour observing the staff and absorbing everything she saw.

But there were many sceptics: How can a sweeper ever hope to learn the intricacies of the beauty business, they would say behind her back. But none of this deterred Fairoza; she was determined to prove them wrong.

She found her opportunity through the Godrej’s Salon-i program, where she not only learnt beauty skills but also other aspects of business management like customer relationship management, timely service delivery and maintaining hygiene standards. Armed with her new knowledge and skills, Fairoza began a beauty parlour in the premises of her house and nurtured a loyal customer base. With the income from her beauty parlour, she was financially self-sufficient, and able to provide for the education of her three children.

However, within a few months, in March 2020, a National lockdown induced by the COVID-19 pandemic forced her to shut down her parlour. Left without her only source of livelihood, Fairoza found herself in a rut yet again. This is when, through Godrej, she was introduced to the REVIVE Alliance.

Through REVIVE, Fairoza received a returnable grant — a no-interest, zero-collateral loan — that helped restart her business after months of economic inactivity. The grant allowed her to purchase resources and amp up her parlour’s hygiene measures to win customer confidence.

Now, she aptly introduces herself as “Beautician Bano” and aspires to start a second salon along with a new textile business. Learning from her own struggles and recognising those of other women like her, Fairoza dreams to provide free training to underprivileged women so that they can triumph over the setbacks in their lives. She aspires to create a path for others like herself to become strong and independent.

This story was editorialised by Raveena Joseph