Sanitation Changemaker

Trichy’s Remarkable Woman Sani-Preneur

Dhivya is a determined entrepreneur from Tiruchirappalli. Despite facing multiples challenges by entering into a male-dominated area of work, she channelled her business acumen into a thriving desludging venture.

As a child, Dhivya yearned to grow up to someday become a policewoman. But as circumstances would have it, she could not continue her education beyond the 8th standard. She did, however, even as a young girl have quite the knack for business. She was quick to learn when she started helping out with her aunt’s business, an experience which taught her how to manage books and understand the complex requirements of running a business.

Today, Dhivya has translated her entrepreneurial spirit into a flourishing Desludging business which she runs along with her husband. (Desludging is the process of removal of sediments from septic tanks for households which are not connected to sewers and instead rely on On-site Sanitation Systems).

Dhivya receives desludging orders on her phone, fixes the rate for cleaning with the client. Her husband or a hired driver drives the septic tank cleaning lorry to the client’ house. The cleaning is carried out using powerful hose pipes to avoid manual entry, the waste is then transported and emptied at a decanting station. Earlier they used to do cleaning and transportation of waste between the two of them but now they have hired additional people to help them. She sold a piece of land to buy the vehicle and paid off the amount in installments. Recognizing a viable demand for septic tanks, she also started selling septic tanks, thereby earning commission on them.

Dhivya is a firm believer in the fact that women can and should enter roles which have traditionally only been reserved for men. Despite the stigma and hassles she faced, she is proud of the example she has set through her work as a desludging operator – her presence makes the women whose households they visit for desludging septic tanks feel a lot more comfortable. Through her dedication, Dhivya has been able to build a credible presence among her clients! She aspires to expand her business further by acquiring more septic tank cleaning vehicles. Her aim is to expand her house further and give both her children a quality education.

In Tiruchirappalli, a thriving town in the state of Tamil Nadu, a limited percentage of desludging demand is met by the Government. The rest is being increasingly catered to by private operators and ‘micropreneurs’ such as Dhivya. Regularly desludging plays an important role towards environmental protection and preservation of water quality. Click here to learn more about business models in faecal sludge and septage management.

Watch Tracing the Tracks to hear directly from the champion: