When Arokyamary expanded her fast-food shop with a loan under our Social Entrepreneurship Programmes she was among our most remarkable success stories.

photo taken in January 2020 (pre-covid)

From next to nothing she started to earn close to 500 rupees a day. Her cart was located at one of the busiest cross roads of the city and come evening her delicious snacks would sell swiftly. She opened her shop at 5.00 pm but peak business hours were between 6 and 9 pm. And on a good day she kept her sales going till 10 pm.

photo taken in early October 2020

When the lockdowns were announced in March her shop had to remain closed. With no clarity on normalcy returning Arokyamary took up a job as a housemaid. The 6000 rupees she earned were her only resource for the survival of her family.

photo taken in early October 2020

Arokyamary lives with her 21-year-old son, who has been extremely supportive of his mother’s business endeavours from the start. Her 19-year-old daughter is studying BSc. Nursing under our Back to School programme. Her oldest son now married doesn’t maintain any contact with her. As for her husband, he abandoned the family a long time ago and is now remarried.

photo taken in February 2020 (pre-covid)

When the lockdown measures began to ease Arokyamary was ready to resume her business, but that was not to be. Not only was the closure of 8pm strictly maintained, the police used to be on their right from 7.30 urging shops to close.

While we understand the extreme constraints within which the police and health officials have been working in Puducherry, especially since our town became a major hotspot in a matter of weeks after unlock measures,  Arokyamary still attempted to resume her business and kept her stall open for a few days but the restricted hours coinciding with her usual peak sale time meant that the perishables she prepared were wasted.

photo taken in early October 2020

Arokyamary’s case is an apercu from the micro level of the significant impact two-and-a-half-hour restriction on business hours can have on a business. This restricted timing continued for over 5 months in her area; it is only since the last 2-3 weeks that these have been relaxed by the police. Arokyamary has fully reopened her business; and her clients are coming back to her, one by one.

A true Sharana Corona Warrior!

-penned by Mrs. Alo Pal, board member