It hasn’t always been a smooth journey. The most difficult part was to find the right partner or the right business. Some early business partners did not believe in empowering the artisans, they were more focussed on the business aspect of it. However, Umang stood steadfast in her purpose, which was to empower the artisans before making money. Differing opinions on this subject soon left them parting ways.
Operationally, it was also challenging to find people who believed in the idea of KhaDigi. Many did not understand the business model of fulfilling orders via outsourcing. Because they didn’t have a factory, getting orders was easy but processing them proved to be the most critical part. Realising the need for a change because of how hard it was to find the right people, Umang revamped the whole business model into a freelance one, in which one person handles just the production part and another handles the sales.
In spite of these challenges, Umang’s positivity has always remained constant. Umang says that she is always positive and calls it her biggest strength. Besides that, management is another key strength of hers. “As an entrepreneur, it’s important to manage people. Communication is definitely key, I can convince and really talk to people,” says Umang.
Being a people’s person, Umang naturally draws her energy from the people around her.
Umang cites her parents as her greatest support pillars, with her father being the external support and her mother, the internal support. Her father would have discussions with her at night, and motivated her when she was feeling down. Her friends have also supported her, even in small ways such as sharing her story online.
Speaking to Umang, it’s clear she has the most gratitude for the people around her, and she’s found a way to pay it forward to the artisans she works with. She maintains that she’s just an enabler; at the end of the day, the artisans help themselves, and she gives them the platform to do so.
The short term loan from Givfunds has also helped KhaDigi improve their cash flow management because every month KhaDigi would have to make loan repayments, which has helped her build financial discipline. Today, there are incubators who want to invest in people, ideas, product development. To get an investment, however, the social enterprise has to submit many documents: a business plan, CA proof, financials and so on. On the other hand, Umang says Givfunds is very clear and fast in processing loan requests and gives short term loans to organisations who otherwise would not have access to working capital loans.
Short term loans become very helpful in small startups. Citing an example, a social enterprise can buy a machine say for INR 50Ks, and start repaying INR 10K or INR 5K each month. Because it’s a low interest rate, fast loan, one can invest first, and then start earning and repaying. This, Umang says, is what sets Givfunds apart from other incubators and investors. In light of a successful working relationship, she has already recommended Givfunds to a few social entrepreneurs and early-stage entrepreneurs and continues to be a strong advocate for Givfunds today.