Jana Bhaydade sits in her small, one-room hut, surrounded by packets of herbs and spices that she sells wholesale across Pune.

By setting up her own business with a loan from her saving group, Jana has increased her family’s monthly income from £30 to £130. Prior to this Jana and her husband, who are both illiterate, were doing labouring work. Now all her children are in education. Another loan will allow them to buy some nearby land to expand their business and recruit more local women to join the four already employed.
Uniquely, Jana has a supportive husband. She relates how, when they married when she was only twelve, they decided to share everything. This wasn’t always easy, as some relatives – used to Indian customs – questioned the non-traditional style of their marriage.

It’s unusual to meet an illiterate woman speaking with such ease and confidence. Clearly, having a supportive husband helps. And it shows that being illiterate isn’t necessarily an obstacle to running a successful business.

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