This is the first in my series of odes to the spirit of entrepreneurship at the grass root level…
At my place we had a “dhobi (washerman)” who would come over to our place everyday and wash the clothes….Since he had small operations and lived in a hut closeby- he washed the clothes of the 8-10 families in their homes, rather than taking em to a “ghat”- a separate washing place- typically next to a natural water body like lake/river etc….
With the advent of washing machines and construction of flats (no open space for the dhobi), his biz saw a drastic drop…which threatened the source of sustenance of this family of six.
They had meanwhile developed another “revenue channel”- ironing . Whereas they were charging Rs 300/- per month for washing, they charged around Rs1.50/- per cloth for ironing. Assuming 10 households and a daily demand of 8 pieces for ironing- they made Rs 3000/- from washing and Rs 3600/- from ironing- a total of Rs 6600/- per month.
What our smart dhobi observed was that “washing” clothes was a diminishing market for him . But he found an opportunity in washing cars- with higher density of people in the neighbourhood and an average of 2 cars per family- he had a growing market in washing of a different kind.
The dude very smartly priced this service around Rs 200/- per month and approached the 10 families he already knew in the first wave. We all were more than happy to have him for this service. Now- washing car is an easier task than washing clothes- I know, coz i have done both 🙂 but more than ease, car-washing can be done in one-fifth the time and this guy washes/cleans the two cars in my family on an alternate basis…. so now he manages to clean cars for somewhere around 25 families…do the maths and u begin to see his genius- a cool 5000/- from car washing….
The job ironing is still on- with rising cost of living, our dhobi has increased the ironing rate to around Rs 2.00-2.50/- per piece and hence sees a better revenue from this old channel also…
No wonder he is the head of the dhobi association in this area !