Preeti Joshi, is a social entrepreneur, belonging to Haligal, Karnataka; who post losing her husband, single-handedly started her catering business, and has subsequently employed 5-6 women from her community, all who were previously unemployed. She is juggling her day between managing the production and sales of her food items at her shop, engaging in the catering business and taking care of her household chores.
She invested in a solar powering roti rolling machine (increasing her productivity) and in a solar powered flour milling machine which enabled a saving of INR 4,500 on her prior flour milling expenses, INR 800 on electricity bills, increasing her overall income by INR 10,000 and saved time as well. Her primary customer base is local bank employees, local students and workers.
Seeing the benefits of the solar energy-based productive use technologies, and growing her enterprise slowly, she consequently also invested in a Solar powered DC refrigerator (100 litres) and a solar-powered photocopying machine. For all of the above, she connected to a local rural bank.
Post lockdown, she also started to receive meal orders from other workers who had migrated to the region for work i.e. bank employees, workers in local offices and hotels etc who could not go back to their homes due to the borders being sealed off. People working during COVID-19 lockdown as essential workers like the local police officials, social workers, ANM, ASHA workers (ie public health workers travelling from village to village for screening and spreading awareness) started requesting her to provide meals.
Before the lockdown, she would provide 25-30 meals for breakfast and a similar number for lunch. Currently, she is receiving 35-40 orders. Peak summer approaching, she also prepares buttermilk and stores it in her solar-powered fridge and sells those along with the meals. There have been special cases like when she was contacted by a local social worker who requested 80 meals in a day for the officials working at the border check-posts. Her business allows her to also provide free or discounted meals to vulnerable community members who are unemployed and short of ration during this period. All the meals are collected by the customers, and proper social distancing measures are practised. She and her employees wear masks and constantly sanitize the kitchen and the produce, ensuring safe production and delivery of food.
Impact on Business during COVID-19
Her income has increased during this period as she has been able to expand her market, cater to individuals engaged in ‘essential services’.
Access to Food:
Joshi is able to provide an essential service to people who are unable to cook at home and are far away from their homes at this time.
Two of her employees live in far off villages and are unable to cross-check posts to come to work. However, her other employees initially had stopped coming for work but soon resumed as they were used to the routine and needed the income. She is able to pay their salaries and they are able to provide for their families during these uncertain times.