COIMBATORE: 35-year-old M Taslima Nasreen, a transwoman entrepreneur from Coimbatore, is finally happy, for her business has gotten the kick-start it craved for all this while. She is the owner of Priyam, a company that manufactures and sells cleaning products, ranging from toilet, floor, and glass cleaners to mixed phenyl, liquid detergents, and dish cleaners, all at a nominal rate.
A native of Tiruppur, Taslima came to Coimbatore about a decade back and had been earning meagre sums on streets, until she was offered a job by an NGO in 2010, to take care of destitute patients at the Coimbatore Medical College Hospital. Several jobs later, she went on to start an NGO, Change Trust, in November 2013 which involved social works, including skill training for transpersons. She is also the first transperson to be nominated as Swachh Bharat Ambassador by the Coimbatore Corporation in 2018.
All was hunky-dory for Taslima until the pandemic hit. The Covid-induced lockdown in 2020 rendered her newly-found business paralysed. “I lost hope on it due to the severe loss I suffered. I had spent around Rs 2 lakh in the business and it was a huge investment for me,” she said, adding that all of her savings were exhausted following this loss.
It’s as if Taslima was born to fight the odds. Earlier, when she was working as a cook during her initial days in the city, she was turned away by her employer for being a transperson. Yet, she continued to make a living. Perhaps, it is this zeal in her that kept her moving through these tough times as well. Despite no profit, Taslima went ahead with her business and tried to market her products door-to-door.
“I was determined not to leave the business despite the loss as I did not want to be an employee under anyone,” she said. It was at this point that Taslima received a bulk order of cleaning materials to be delivered to all the police stations that fall under the Coimbatore district police limits.
There are about 42 police stations, including special units, and eight DSP offices along with quarters, and the district head office in the district. Superintendent of Police S Selvanagarathinam said, “The department allots amount to each station to purchase cleaning materials. Heavy stations get allotted Rs 7,000 each, medium stations get Rs 5,000 each, and light category stations are allotted Rs 3,000 each. We got to know about the products she manufactures and after verifying the quality and price, we decided to place an order.”
Simple math suggests that the bulk order, which is expected to continue for at least a few months, might give a chance for this entrepreneur to get back on her feet and give a better scope for business. This may also encourage other transpersons to become entrepreneurs, said the police.
Taslima, who has a BBM degree, is already on cloud nine. “I am happy that I could provide job opportunities to at least 10 families,” she concluded, and hoped her little venture could branch out soon.
I was determined not to leave the business despite the loss as I did not want to be an employee under anyone
— M Taslima Nasreen