Indomitable Spirit. Illuminating Lives.

Updated: Feb 1, 2019

Some incidents in real-life turn out to be heart-felt, inspiring and touching. And they happen not in the urban colonies, but at the grassroots where making two ends meet is a daily challenge. Ashok and Dhanalakshmi are one such couple who will take you back to the entrepreneurial goals of on-screen characters Varun Dhawan and Anushka Sharma in the film ‘Sui Dhaaga: Made in India’.

Ashok and Dhanalakshmi are behind ‘Dhanalakshmi Lighting Works’ – a serial bulb setting business run by the women of Gandhinagar colony in Arasanarkulam village of Tirunelveli district.

Just like Mauji (played by Varun Dhawan), Ashok had been working in a small serial bulb factory in Tuticorin. That was almost a decade ago. Ashok had all the skill set but for the measly salary which was a dampener when it came to meet the household expenses. Luck is for the bravest! Not seeing any improvement in the financial situation, Ashok decided to say goodbye to Tuticorin and came back to Arasanarkulam, his home town to start a micro-enterprise of his own.

Was he equipped to handle his entrepreneurial venture? Yes, because Ashok was adept in making sketches which propelled him to make huge bamboo structures, which were then lined with serial lights.

Did Ashok do this all by himself? No, it was Dhanalakshmi, his wife who provided unflinching support and motivation to her husband in this new entrepreneurial task. That’s why, the name of the enterprise ‘Dhanalakshmi Lighting Works’.

New babies need some amount of handholding and nurturing. While Ashok made the sketches and molded the bamboo frames, wife Dhanalakshmi helped with the light setting. Couple goals, eh!

Soon enough, three women from their colony joined them in their entrepreneurial journey. In the beginning, the business was not very lucrative enough due to lack of funds. And the buyers didn’t have the nerve to pay Dhanalakshmi Lighting Works in advance.

It took five years for the entrepreneurial couple to get aid from the Srinivasan Services Trust, a non-profit organisation which advised the couple to team up with more and more women and form a self-help group. When ‘Gandhi’, the self-help group was established, the SST helped them get loans from banks as also vehicular support to move their finished structures.

The snail’s pace picked momentum. In a matter of time, the company started to get orders from across the state, and then from neighborly states – Kerala and Karnataka. The couple also had their own individual instincts to take their business venture to greater heights. While Ashok was an introvert, the better half Dhanalakshmi had the chutzpah to go to the nearby markets along with other self-help group members to showcase their products. Her efforts paid rich dividends, and word-of-mouth worked to get more business, more independence.

Any guess what the situation is like today? A work force of 30 women work for them. Ashok proudly shows off the “Made in India” tag saying “But these would last longer than the ‘use-and-throw’ ones from China”.

The returns not only helped women become financially independent, but also send their children to good schools. As for Ashok and Dhanalakshmi, their daughter is pursuing computer science engineering at a college in Nazareth, and helping her father use a laptop to come up with better designs in LED light settings.

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