maid in india ‘Maid to order’ isn’t a pipe dream anymore. Surekha Kadapa-Bose chats up ‘maid’en entrepreneur Dr Manju Agarwal who’s made a successful business out of taking care of mundane chores
HERS is an interesting case of an academic becoming an entrepreneur. With a doctorate under her arm, Kandivali housewife Dr Manju Agarwal got a job as a lecturer of Hindi in a city college but soon had to quit like many working wives do.The problem:“Like many others, I did not have a maid to care for my kids and house in my absence.”
A month after she quit her job, Dr Agarwal not only hired a maidservant for her home but became a ‘social entrepreneur’ too! But this 40-yearold mother of two prefers to call herself a “human re s o u rce s consultant” and for ten years, has specialised in providing housemaids, governess, cooks and housekeepers to thousands of homes in Mumbai and its suburbs.
Enterprising by nature, Agarwal saw a business opportunity in the situation and began scouring the slum localities on the periphery of Lokhandwala, namely Damu Nagar, Kranti Nagar,Gautam Nagar and others for women who would want to work as maids.For two months every afternoon and evening, she visited them to slowly secure their confidence and soon got them jobs in the homes of local residents.
“I was touched by their misery as I came across housewives who supported their alcoholic husbands, wives abandoned by bigamous husbands and mothers-in-law thrown out by their daughters-in-law,” says Dr Agarwal. Over a decade into her vocation of “helping the helpless,”Dr Agarwal has provided maids to over 5,000 households located as far as Panvel, Kalwa and Virar, sourced from both the western and central suburbs.
Housemaids who have secured jobs in turn refer their relatives who come to work as maids from places as distant as Ratnagiri, Satara, Raigad and Alibagh. Little wonder then that her clientele has grown by word-of-mouth publicity and includes film stars, industrialists, college lecturers, bank executives etc. On receiving a query, Dr Agarwal’s staff visits the client’s house to make detailed enquiries and back it up with testimonials from neighbours and office bearers of cooperative housing societies. A trial period is offered to the
client to try out the maid selected by the agency.
So does she ever get any complaints? “We do get complaints about the maid drinking milk on the sly,etc.On receiving the complaint,we counsel the maid and tell her that it is better to ask than to steal as this shakes the homeowner’s confidence,“ informs Dr Agarwal who soon plans to get a chawl in Dadar to shelter prospective maids coming from beyond Mumbai before they get their jobs.