Incredible Motivational Story Of A Ragpicker Turning Head Of Rs 1 Cr Turnover Firm

“If you are born poor, it’s not your fault. But, if you die poor, it is your fault.” – Bill Gates.

Once upon a time in 1981, working on the streets as a rag picker and barely earning Rs 5/day, Manjula Vaghela has touched an annual turnover of Rs 1 crore in 2015. She is currently the head of a cleaner’s co-operative, and literally the definition of the term rags to riches. Her cleaners cooperative has more than 400 members now, who work in domestic cleaning and homemaking in many institutes and societies in Gujarat.

Manjula was never afraid of working hard, even if it meant she would earn just bare minimum. Starting her day early in the morning, she would take a large sack bag to check and take out recyclable materials from other people’s wastes. After collecting all these, she would sell the reusable materials to scrap dealer.

Life was unfolding one day at a time for Manjula when Elaben Bhatt, founder of self-employed women’s association, entered. She helped Manjula set up her 40-member Shri Saundarya Safai Utkarsh Mahila Sewa Sahkari Mandali Ltd (SSSUMSSML). Setting up a business was a challenge in itself, and havoc struck soon after passing away of Manjula’s husband leaving behind a son. But, that did not stop Manjula from deterring from her path.

Manjula held on to her business goals and there was nothing anybody could say or do to take her away from that. Soon, Saundarya Mandali got its first client as National Institute of Design. They started offering services to institutes, residents and organizations of national and international repute. They were also the cleaning staff in the international event Vibrant Gujarat.

From collecting wastes in rags, Saundarya Mandali has come a long way now. They use many modern technologies like high-jet pressure, micro-fibre mops, scrubbers, extractors, floor cleaners, road cleaners etc. They do have their set of challenges in growing. The large companies and organizations, nowadays, issue e-tenders for cleaning works and contracts, which is difficult for the mandali. But they have recruited people to learn about that, too, and overcome this difficulty as well.

In between all this, Manjula made sure her son does not share her childhood fate and earned enough to put him through a medical school. That college even felicitated Manjula and her son for their incredible struggle story.

Raised in a poverty-stricken background, married off early, became the breadwinner after her husband’s death, started her own venture, took the responsibilities of number of women like her, made sure of her son’s education, now runs a crore-turnover business, Manjula is the epitome of the quote, “Hardships often prepare ordinary people for an extraordinary destiny!”

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