Woman Entrepreneur of the Year

“In the next three years, I hope to provide direct employment to 500 and indirect employment to over 2000.”

After a devastating fire destroyed her garment manufacturing factory, many entrepreneurs might have given up. But Sonal Patil refused to admit defeat.

“It came as a big shock to us – the claim settlement from the insurance company was inadequate, it was a huge financial loss and we had to start from scratch to rebuild the business,” says Sonal. “It took more than three months before the business could resume and the losses could be recovered.”

In the male-oriented world of Indian garment manufacturing, Sonal has made great strides in creating an impressive business. Within four years, she has achieved a turnover of US$350,000, given direct employment to 120 people (80 women) and indirect employment to 480 people.

Her business, Shree Group, designs and manufactures a range of clothing, particularly uniforms, for local schools and large companies. She says that she was compelled to consider entrepreneurship after her husband fell ill, because without any work experience no employer would hire her. “All the jobs I had applied for used my lack of work experience as an excuse to reject me,” she says. “Pushed into a corner with no alternative but to explore the option of self-employment, I started looking out for business ideas.”

Having secured a collateral free loan of US$16,000 from YBI’s member in India, the Bharatiya Yuva Shakti Trust, her business was growing rapidly until the fire at her warehouse. Following on from the fire, she had to call on support from many parts of the community – including customers, who agreed to pay higher advances, and suppliers who gave her additional credit. “I don’t think I would have been able to survive without the total cooperation and support from BYST, my bank and my mentor Mr CP Kulkarni who helped us to secure a temporary overdraft facility.”

Through her business, Sonal has been able to demonstrate her social commitment in a number of ways, including providing a doctor free of charge to employees, sponsoring a child of one employee so that they can go to school, providing school uniforms to employees’ children, and encouraging five women to start up their own business.

More about Shree Group at

Sonal’s achievements will be celebrated in March 2015 at the final of YBI’s Young Entrepreneur Awards, supported by Barclays. This year, the Awards will be held in the United Arab Emirates as part of an Entrepreneur Roadshow.

Find out more at the roadshow website.


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