Downtown

Young and enterprising

MODEL STUDENT: “I attend almost every seminar organised by my college. Many speakers have motivated me,” says Kalaiarasi. Photo: S. Vasanth   | Photo Credit: S_Vasanth

Three years ago, Ambattur resident C.E. Kalai Arasi made heads turn at a seminar in Vadapalani on career opportunities in the export business. Out of school that year, she was the youngest participant at the seminar.



The majority of those attending the seminar were in their late 30s and 40s and they would have thought of her as a cute and smart girl. It is doubtful if any of them would have foreseen as their competitor.



Nineteen years old now, Kalai has successfully delivered on her first major export order of potatoes to Colombo last week. Now, she has two new orders for vegetables in hand. And every day, she is getting a minimum of 10 enquiries. This is my first big break. Earlier, I sourced mangoes for a trader in Dubai but did not make much profit,” says the final year B.Com (Corporate Secretarship) student of Shri Krishnaswami College for Women, Anna Nagar who exports agro products from Tamil Nadu under her entrepreneurial venture Vibrant Exim.



As part of the export business, she sources raw materials from various regions. For instance, the consignment of potatoes she exported to Colombo came from Mettupalayam.



She operates from home, using a laptop and a phone to keep in touch with her clients. “Every day I get 10 enquiries, the majority of them from Singapore,” she says.



“I am still a novice in the business, but have been lucky to be guided by many experts. Today, many consider me a good supplier,” she says unassumingly. For an order of spices, she roamed the streets of Sowcarpet looking for the best varieties and the best rates. Koyambedu wholesale market is another place she visits every time an enquiry shows promise of turning into a deal.



“Nobody would reveal where they get their products from, so I do the ground work and follow up with traders,” Kalai says, adding that she has never visited these market before.



Always keen to start her own business, Kalai learnt about the trade listening to interviews on television and building contacts by attending various seminars. After which, she got the export registration number, agriculture export licence and other requirements to run the business.



Kalai says she attributes her leadership qualities to the training she received at her college. “I attend almost every seminar organised by the college. One speaker Gowtham, a 24 year-old exporter, had impressed me with his talk,” says the Rotaract president of the college. “Apart from this, my grandparents have been funding me. My principal and friends chip in too.”

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Printable version | Feb 25, 2021 10:29:02 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/features/downtown/teenager-kalai-arasi-shows-business-acumen/article6274945.ece

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