Manisha’s Story: Beauty in the Eye of the Entrepreneur

Thirty-one-year-old Manisha identifies with the word “entrepreneur” before “daughter,” “wife” or “mother.” She runs a beauty parlor out of her home, catering to the hair and makeup needs of women in Mumbai. Manisha earns a living doing something she loves.

It wasn’t too long ago that she yearned for more in her life. Raised to be a good wife and mother, cooking and cleaning, Manisha felt unsatisfied. “Ever since I can remember, I wanted to work and earn money, but I had no skills,” she admits.

During her frequent attendance of wedding parties in her Vashinaka neighborhood, Manisha was struck by how gorgeous and made up all the women were. The realization that these women were paying for professional beauty services inspired Manisha to acquire some skills of her own.

With the support of her husband and children, she enrolled in Pratham’s Beauty Entrepreneurship Program at a nearby vocational training center. The three-month course gave her the practical, hands-on skills she needed. Starting her own business, however, was a little harder. Manisha’s husband was in a car accident, and, while he escaped unscathed, the other man sustained serious injuries.

“We spent all our savings without thinking twice because we wanted to save his life,” she says.

The couple decided to move forward with the beauty parlor anyway, using what little money they had left. When Manisha received financial support of Rs. 30,000 ($450) from Pratham, she said, “It felt like my life had finally started.”

Today, Manisha’s beauty parlor is successful enough to cover the family’s household expenses, however she’s not quite satisfied. The entrepreneur wants to become a vocational trainer and transform the lives of women like her who have little formal education and cannot work outside their homes.

“Everybody thinks women are only capable of taking care of kids and cooking. But we can do so much more.”

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