Most of the entrepreneurs that you must have heard of would have come from educated , well to do family with financial and family support , but it is very rarely that someone who has had no education turns out to make a business with lakhs of turnover.
One such rarity is Pabiben rabari. She is a 35-year-old Kutch tribal woman who brought Kutch artistry to international level. She was born in kukdasar village in Kutch and was the eldest of the three daughters. Her mother was widowed and being the eldest she helped her mother to provide for the family. Education was something she did not dare dream of. Her father died when she was only 5 years old and at that time her mother was expecting her third sister. She was in an age too young to understand the worldly affairs. Her mother struggled for long to try to make her daughters educated but due to lack of money Pabiben had to drop out after her 4th standard and she started to help her mother. She fetched water for the villagers for only 1 rupee hoping to help her mother make ends meet. Today she is a millionaire with a website of her own called pabiben.com and helps other woman like her who struggled through time.
Though she could not hold a pen her needle and thread made equal noise and brought her the same amount of success, even more than she had dreamed of. She learnt traditional rabari embroidery from her mother and then pursued it with professionals. She teaches other aspiring women like her the form of embroidery that she invented called “hari jari” Today she heads a company which has around 25 lakh turnovers.
In her village there was a custom for women to take embroidery as a piece of dowry for marriage. Since doing embroidery is not easy it used to take first 1-2 months to finish one dress when they did nothing else beside it. This way it took them years to make many dresses with embroidery thus they got married late. The village elders realized that the women were already 33-34 when they finished all the embroidery work and so got out a rule saying no embroidery for personal use. This decision of course eased the load of, but it posed danger to the traditional, generation passed on art form. There were chances of it vanishing over the years.
Pabiben was only 12 when she headed a group of women as the head artisan for an NGO. Her mother was an expert in embroidery and having learnt from the best she started to make amazing pieces of work. In order to save the art of her village she invented “hari jari”. they used modern ribbons and trims with their traditional art form to create bags, pouches etc. the first bag that pabiben made with hari jari was an instant hit and thus go the name of pabi bag.
It was the first time in the Dhebaria community that a 12-year-old girl had gone out of home and created something of her own. People were shocked and awed. Being an old community with strict rules, she was met with many oppressions in the start. The village people were not exactly supportive. At that time girls were not allowed to leave their homes let alone their villages and Pabiben went from villages to villages selling and marketing about their work.
For the first 6-7 years she worked with the NGO and begin with lace embroidery, machine work but with time and expertise she started designing complex garment, dresses clothes etc. at that time she received a salary of rupees 300 per month which was big amount for a girl who used to earn 1 rupee a day .
She got married when she turned 18 and surprisingly that was the day her entrepreneur journey also started. At the day of her wedding some foreigners came as they were intrigued by Indian weddings and praised her work. As a kind gesture she gifted one of those bags to them which later became to be known as pabi bag and gained the title of an international hit.
Pabiben says her husband is very supportive of her work, he has always encouraged her despite whatever the other people have said. He told her that she was so good at what she did and that she should take it out to the market, but pabiben was shy and resorted to other people taking her products to sell.
With time she developed her skills of talking to people and stated by going to exhibitions which helped her expand her skills and gain experience. Her first big order was of 17000 rupees after which they received another order of 70k from Ahmedabad. They got the Gujarat government grant in 2015.her husband who used to own kirana store has now joined her business and their current turnover is 20 lakhs.
She is being published in a book named millionaire housewives, she met the people writing the book in an exhibition in Delhi and then they visited her village. It is one of the greatest things an entrepreneur can dream of, of one’s story being written permanently where anyone at anytime can see it read about it.
Pabiben is a great advisor for education women she believes that education can do wonders to a person’s future. She has two sons one 12 years old already studying in an English medium school and a 5-year-old.
Her advice to other young entrepreneurs is to always believe in what you do, follow the right path, remain true to your roots and behave with humbleness and respect irrespective of whom you are dealing with.
Pabiben has helped more than 500 women settle and become independent. She is a face of humility, modesty and uniqueness in hundreds of same minded entrepreneurs.