Sumati Hikaka’s idea of entrepreneurship stemmed from her need and desire to be at home and not go far from her loved ones looking for a job. As someone who had to earn money and take care of her family as well, doing something in her village in Rayagada made the most sense to her at the time.
Sumati, who graduated during the pandemic, started her tailoring business near her home and proudly calls her shop her workplace.
At the India Commemoration of the IWD 2023 at the UN Women India country office, Sumati Hikaka engaged in a conversation with us and shared her entrepreneurial journey, her excitement to start a new line of business, how she works on self-growth, and why she will never stop seeking innovative ideas and implementing them.
Sumati Hikaka Journey
32-year-old Sumati Hikaka grew up in the Rayagada district of Odisha with her young sister and parents who supported her enough to fend for her studies. However, staggering expenses and a deep financial crunch affected her family deeply. Sumati, who was pursuing her graduation back in 2019 made up her mind not to take economic disability as s setback and instead decided to start a business on her own.
“I knew that I anyway had to go looking for a job, I also knew that I wanted to stay home to take care of my ageing parents and my younger sister. Therefore, I decided to start a tailoring shop because that was one skill I could put to use,” she shared.
Sumati, who took time to find her ground, establish her shop and then started generating income, understands the good and bad that comes with the business. I am, in fact, more inspired by what she tells me next. “I chose this business. My sister got herself involved too. The profits and the losses are a part of it, that’s the risk I am willing to take. I wanted to do this and I am doing it, what’s better than that?”
I chose this business. The profits and the losses are a part of it, that’s the risk I am willing to take. I wanted to do this and I am doing it, what’s better than that?”
The girl who once made a choice and honours every bit of it doesn’t plan to stop now. She is now starting a first-ever photocopier that would run on green energy in her village. Being pinned as one-of-its-kind in her region, her idea is to increase awareness about the same and also employ more people around her so they do not have to leave their homes and move out looking for jobs. “A big part of financial independence is also empowering others to achieve that too. My sister and I try to find new ways to do that, and with the correct mentorship, we are able to bring our ideas to life.”
Running a tailoring shop with my sister helped me understand how we can use our skills not just to earn money but also to better ourselves.
A lot of young girls living around Sumati took inspiration from her and started enhancing their skills as well. Sumati is proud of this infectious energy she has spread in her village and has taken it upon herself to employ some of them, too. “I cannot be happier to see that young girls are coming forward and deciding to become economically empowered. If there’s even a little bit I can do to help them, I will.”
A big part of financial independence is also empowering others to achieve that too.
This story is part of the #KisiSeKumNahi series. UN Women India and SheThePeopleTV come together to celebrate women’s leadership with #KisiSeKumNahi, tales of women’s empowerment.