When India went into national lockdown in March 2020, 24-year-old self-employed photographer Shantanu Dandage lost all his clients and orders. But instead of despairing, he used this time of standstill to upgrade his skills and bounce back stronger. His story is one of perseverance and determination.
Shantanu started his business in 2018 after graduating with a degree in fine arts. But from the start, he faced many challenges. Having no client base initially, he was excited when he was hired for a big campaign shoot during the 2019 elections in India. However, luck was not on his side: during the shoot, his camera fell, crashed into pieces and all his work was lost.
Many would have given up, but Shantanu decided to start again from scratch. To save his business, he needed to apply for a loan. He got in touch with YBI’s member in India, Bharatiya Yuva Shakti Trust (BYST) who helped him with the application process and paired him with a business mentor. When the loan was disbursed in February 2020, Shantanu was full of optimism and motivation to restart his business. But then life threw another big challenge at him.
When COVID-19 reached India in March 2020, the whole country went into lockdown and Shantanu’s business was forced to come to a standstill again. But being no stranger to challenges, he did not despair. Instead, he decided to use this time to take online courses and upskill himself in videography. This investment in his skills paid off: after the lockdown was lifted, his services were in higher demand than ever and his business is now in a stable condition.
While the lockdown has been hard for photography businesses like Shantanu’s, he believes that it has also created new opportunities for the sector. With many businesses going online as a result of the pandemic, there is growing demand for high-quality photographs and videos for websites and social media.
To make the most of these business opportunities, Shantanu receives support from BYST through our Accelerating Youth-led Businesses in the Digital Era programme, funded by IKEA Foundation. His message to other young entrepreneurs:
“I wish to tell all the aspiring entrepreneurs to never stop believing in themselves and always try to create an opportunity from challenges. All the best!”
Listen to Shantanu tell his story: