TomorrowMakers ™

From a domestic violence victim to director of a successful business: How Bharati Sumaria’s love for her children changed her life

12 May 2017
How Bharati Sumaria’s determination and love for her children helped her fight depression, an abusive marriage, and eventually build a thriving business.
 

Running a successful business is no easy feat. But it becomes even more of a challenge when you’ve had to build that business from scratch, while being in an abusive relationship. What does it take to achieve all this? A ‘never give up’ attitude, and a whole lot of determination and courage; qualities that you can find in abundance in Bharati Sumaria.

Tough beginnings

Today, Bharati is the Director of Sumaria Pet Preforms Industries, a plastic manufacturing business she founded in 2005. Can you believe that a company with a turnover running into crores of Rupees is headed by someone who only studied till standard 10? It’s true. Born in a conservative family, where the belief was that women should not work, Bharati’s father dissuaded her from going to college. A rather ironic situation, considering he has several schools and colleges in Vapi. Though she did not consider becoming an entrepreneur, she always wanted to work and be independent. Instead, she was married off by the age of 21. What was even worse was that she was married to an abusive man, who shunned all responsibility towards his family and made her life hell.

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Fighting an abusive marriage and depression

Soon after getting married, Bharati had three children- a girl and twin boys; and that’s when her troubles began. Her husband turned violent, and would beat her until she was bloodied and bruised, often leaving her in need of hospitalization. To make matters worse, he was unemployed, wasted away any money he received from his father’s business, and spent most of his time out of the house. Bharati suffered such horrific beatings that she was quickly slipping into depression. She barely ever left the house and had almost no interaction with anyone, simply because she was terrified, not just of her husband, but of everyone around her.

A helping hand

Bharati, along with her brother, made several attempts to get her husband into work, but they failed repeatedly. The beatings continued, only now they were accompanied by suicidal thoughts as well. Help came from no one; not her neighbours who knew of her situation, nor her in-laws, who criticized her as a wife. Not even the police helped. Getting a divorce was out of the question at the time. The thought of her children and their futures, was the only thing that kept her going. She wanted more for them, a better life. And so, she fought the depression, and suicidal thoughts. Bharati went back to her brother and asked him to help find work, only this time it was for her and not her husband.

Related: Yoddhas: Rahul Yadhav’s tale of acceptance, survival and creating a community to overcome cancer

Starting a new chapter

With the help of her brother and father, Bharati set up a small factory that manufactured plastic items like boxes, toothbrushes etc. When her children were in school or at tuitions, she would be in the factory or the office. She wanted her children to have bright futures and big offices. So, she worked tirelessly, learning menial tasks before getting to the bigger ones. She learnt the business while on the job, and was guided by those working alongside her. Immersing herself in her work helped fight depression, and slowly increased her confidence around people. Her hard work and determination eventually paid off. Not only did she open a few more factories, but she was also being approached by big companies, boosting her business.

Building a business and legacy

Bharati has left her husband and traumatic past behind, and is now an activist for women’s rights. With three manufacturing units under her command, only the sky is the limit for her. Even her dreams for her children are coming true. Two of them have already assumed control of one of her factories. The idea is to let them learn the world of business on their own, step by step, even if they make mistakes, until they succeed. After all, everything she has built is for them. It has been a long and hard journey, with challenges from the very start. But through it all, her children have been a source of constant inspiration for her. Even in her darkest moments, they encouraged and supported her need and will to work. She has also drawn inspiration from her father and brother, whom she has always admired.

Related: Lightening up lives: How Varsha emerged from her blindness to became a volunteer for change

Advice to women facing the same problems she did

Bharati was criticized by many people, but she did not let that affect her. She was laughed at for working and starting a business. What could a woman with such little education accomplish anyway? A great deal, it seems. Women can achieve anything they want, if they have the energy and will to do it, she says. Many are even stronger than men; they are not easily broken. Don’t listen to what others say you can or cannot do, is her advice. As for Bharati, she now hopes to turn her company into a Public Limited one. In the meantime, however, her interests lie in doing a business management course or an MBA. She would love to go back and experience college and finish her studies the way she always wanted to.

Bharati epitomises everything that mothers stand for. Love for her children pushed her to become a successful business woman. In return, she has given them a legacy that they probably wouldn’t have had otherwise. This Mother’s Day, let’s celebrate mothers like Bharati; the lesser-known heroes in our lives, who strive to give their children the best that they can, under all circumstances.

 
 
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