“I believed that people from small villages could not have big dreams.”
If you had asked me about my dreams while I was growing up, I would have stared at you blankly.
I am Sunita Khade. I was born in the village of Nerle in the Sangli district of Maharashtra. I grew up in extreme poverty. Life was hard and I believed that the only way to survive was to accept that. There was no point in dreaming like the rich or in hoping for miracles.
My life did not change even when I got married. I was young and I spent the first 10 years managing household chores and helping my in-laws run their small spice mill from a room of our home in Bedag village in Sangli. Sangli was a poor region and lack of adequate employment opportunities was a perennial problem. Most jobs were seasonal. Most people did not have bank accounts. My family and I were no different.
“When I developed a skill, I learnt how to dream.”
We started believing that nothing could change but then suddenly a ray of hope emerged on the horizon. The ICICI Academy launched their free skill training programmes in Bedag.
I joined their 30-day Dress Designing course which attracted me because it focused on imparting practical skills and could help me in becoming a professional tailor. I learnt everything about fabric, cutting, stitching and fixing mistakes. I also learnt the basics of financial planning. On completing the course, I took up a job with a garment factory and started earning. The course changed everything.
I was now armed with a skill and a bank account. I could start dreaming again. My instructor from the ICICI Academy and the Branch Manager at ICICI Bank encouraged us to start a women’s group. They explained that we could take a loan as a group and use it to start our own businesses.
This motivation prompted my neighbours, friends and me to form a Self Help Group. We applied for a loan from ICICI Bank. With the loan, I was able to start my own small business and my earnings increased considerably. Our group continues to grow with the constant support that we receive from ICICI Bank and has transformed the lives of 20 women so far. As the leader of the group, I keep records, collect payments and deposit them in the bank.
“I am self-reliant now and help others too.”
I could never have dreamt that I would reach this level of success one day. I have a new reality now. From being a dependent person, I am now an independent woman who contributes to her family’s income and pays for her sons’ education. When a family member fell ill, I was able to go to the ATM and withdraw enough to pay for emergency treatment! I am saving to secure our future.
“You can fulfill your dreams like I did.”
People are surprised by how far I have come. I want to go further. The training at the ICICI Academy and the loan provided by ICICI Bank helped me fulfill my dreams. I would like to help others to learn and grow like I did. I want them to believe that their dreams can also be fulfilled.