Success in life tastes sweeter when it comes after hard work and defying stiff challenges. There are many such examples and these people inspire us to move through the difficult phases of life. Savitaben Kolsawala, famously known as Coalwali in Gujarat, is a burning example of a woman who has become an influential industrialist even after facing countless social and economic barriers.
It is now that Savitaben owns business worth several crores of rupees, but there was a time when she went from house to house selling coal. This journey from the very bottom to the top was not easy or smooth by any means. Her struggle saga of establishing such a large empire after starting from zero and struggling against acute poverty is nothing short of a Bollywood flick.
How It Started
Savitaben belongs to a very poor Dalit family of Ahmedabad, the industrial capital of Gujarat. From the very beginning, economic condition of her family was weak. Her husband, who was working as a conductor in Ahmedabad municipal transport service, did not earn enough to support their joint family. The family was even struggling to manage their daily meals. In such a pathetic situation, Savitaben decided to start earning as well. However, the biggest obstacle she faced was that no one was ready to give her work as she was completely illiterate.
After many unsuccessful attempts at several jobs Savitaben thought of starting something of her own. Her parents used to sell coal and she took inspiration from that and began started selling coal to the local shops. Initially, she did not even have the money to buy coal. So she had no choice other than going door-to-door selling burnt charcoals that she collected from mills.
Remembering the days of her struggle, Savitaben says that because she was a dalit the businessmen turned her down. The coal merchants were of the opinion that she is a dalit woman and if she runs away with the coal tomorrow what will they do.
Building Million Dollar Venture
In spite of all the challenges, Savitaben never accepted defeat and remained firm on her ideology of hard work. She was able to build a long list of loyal customers while selling coal door-to-door. Years of hard work started to bear fruits and she began generating good profits. With the intention of expanding the business, she started a small coal shop. Within a few months, she started getting orders from small factories, especially the ones working in the ceramic sector. Slowly her business started to expand and she got orders from various factories. She had to visit different factories for the distribution and payment against the coal she supplied and got a chance to watch the way those factories were run.
Savitaben liked the idea of the ceramic factory and decided to start one of her own. She invested in a small ceramic furnace and began supplying good quality ceramics at a cheap rate. This gave her good business in less time and since then she never looked back. She continued to venture in the ceramic industry and received huge success. In 1989, she started manufacturing Premier Ceramics and in 1991 ventured into the export of Ceramic Products in many countries by establishing a new company Sterling Ceramics Limited.
Today, Savitaben is in the list of the most successful businesspersons from rural India. She owns a convoy of luxury cars like Audi, Pajero, BMW, Mercedes and a huge bungalow with ten bedrooms in the posh area of Ahmedabad.