Manjula Vaghela, 60, once worked as a rag picker on the city streets for Rs.5 a day. Today the ambitious lady heads a cleaners’ cooperative with 400 members, that provide cleaning and housekeeping services to 45 institutions and societies in Ahmedabad and rakes in a turnover of Rs.1 crore a year.
Manjula recalls how the National Institute of Design was the first institution to give her their business followed by Physical Research Laboratory who hired some of her staff. Amazingly it took five years to convince authorities to register their cooperative as a service company.
Most of the cleaning women are also former paper pickers who now operate with modern equipment including vacuum cleaners, carpet shampooers and so on.
Manjula’s Saundarya Mandali’s next target is to make illiterate women tech savvy and ensure that they crack the now fashionable e-tender process.