JINA KHUMJAM: IRON LADY BEHIND THE MA-NGAL SOAPS
There is no strong individual with an easy past, says a quote. Jina Khumjam, an entrepreneur from Manipur lives by this statement. Paving her success through a sequence of barriers, she has come a long way by being a brand in her industry, natural, highly ethical and very Indian. The job of soap making and other handicraft items gives her most happiness now. With the support of her daughters, she is able to continue her business with same grit and urge to succeed.
Jina manufactures soaps of various kinds, under the brand name of Mangal by using extracts of locally available fruits and herbs like Heibi (Meyna laxiflora Robyns), Lemon, Nongleishang (Xylosma), Sangbrei (Aloe-vera), Neem, Heiribop (Citrus latipes), Cucumber, Turmeric, Kekru, Koridak and oranges also. A brilliant and relevant idea of using locally available herbs and fruits, which possess qualities to brighten, protect skin and impart natural goodness to it makes her unique selling point. She employs traditional, age old process to make soaps without using any chemical. Purely vegetative and handmade, people keep coming back to her for her natural products. Freshly collected herbs are used in each soap and Maangal brand represents women empowerment and enlightenment.
STORY OF SUCCESS
What can a woman do when her husband earns a meagre amount, gets drunk every day and resorts to domestic violence? Constant family struggles and fights lead Jina to find a stable job to support her starving family. Going till a point where she thought ending life was better, she rose like a phoenix, determined to make a living out of handicraft industry. She began with hand knitting of woollen blouses and cushion covers. Then she met Mangshatabam Subita, Secretary of Women Action for Development and it was a turning point to her life. She received training in soap – making from there and made huge success out of it. There was no looking back since then and today Jina is a brand for natural, handmade soaps. She also recycles waste to create eco-friendly products.
Rocky and Pinky are her two daughters who support her throughout her business. Her products are all reasonably priced like, price of carry bags of varied sizes and designs range from Rs.40 to Rs.500 while soap varieties are sold at Rs. 20 a piece. With the income she earns, she also dreams of building a show room for her products and a centre to give free training to women. Financial crisis comes across as a big barrier to her but she is not bogged down. . She imparts training to many women self-help groups on soap-making and embroidery works. Her work team also consists of destitute women, widows and women who are AIDS patients. They all toil together, contributing to a great social change, supporting Indian products and sustaining their lives by earning a stable income.
But Jina is disappointed with general attitude of Manipuris who is very negligent about natural products. They don’t support indigenous industries and also shows an indifferent attitude. On top of that, she has never received help from banks or government. She has never tried to pursue financial grant due to long official procedures. Jina is always confined to her passion of soap-making and is busy, helping women to be independent. She might not be hoarding wealth, but she is an ideal personality, serious and dedicated about her work. Strong on ethics and morale, she stands as a charismatic icon, both in terms of hard work and strength of mind. With such women scaling to top, we don’t have a long way to take woman empowerment to another level.