Although she is still under age, Gaisingthuanliu Panmei is already a proud small-scale entrepreneur. How this came about is reported below:
Gaisingthuanliu lives in one of the poorest areas of North-East-India, Tamenglong. Tamenglong is a district in the Indian state of Manipur, on the edge of the Himalayas. It is a hard life, dense rainforest and steep rugged mountain ranges makes it inaccessible. Electricity and streets are non-existent. The educational system is inadequate. At an early age the children have to help in the fields.
Gaisingthuanliu Panmei also visited the local primary school for a very short period . She did not learn to read, write or calculate. After her mother’s death she had to help out her father on a daily basis in the fields. Once a week she carried the harvest to the market in town, 14km on foot. On her way back she dragged a barrow with all the most urgent goods from the town – her village does not have any shops.
In the meantime a lot has changed: “Thanks to the Childaid school!”, she smiles. In 2013, Childaid Network started an evening school program in her village. Children and adolescents who did not go to primary school or only attended for a short time, could receive their primary school education there. Gaisingthuanliu Panmei was one of 34 school children , who quickly learned how to read, write and calculate. That gave her the self-confidence to change her life fundamentally.
She borrowed 900 rupees from her brother, approximately 10€. Together with her own small savings, she was able to open up a small shop for sweets and household supplies in the kitchen of the family’s house. “Within five months my product range and its value had tripled!”, she confidently adds. , “In the past I only knew a few letters of the alphabet, and I wasn’t able to add up – thus, I was often cheated in the market ”. In the evening classes I learnt everything I need to successfully manage my own shop”. She is happy that she does not have to work so much in the fields and is nevertheless able to support her family with her earnings.
This year, she is going to school again to learn even more. Her sister-in-law and her brother help out in the shop, whenever she is not there. Soon she wants to expand. She is already working on it: a larger shop on the street for all the villagers.