When she was in higher secondary school, Aparna Deka, a resident of Hatigaon in Guwahati, Assam, started offering tuitions to earn pocket money and supplement her family’s meagre income. While the amount she earned wasn’t high, the experience gave her confidence in her ability to provide for those around her. It also steeled her resolve to continue to contribute to her family’s income and stand shoulder to shoulder with the men in her family in the future, too

When asked about the constraints or problems that she has faced in her life, Aparna is firm that she did not face any constraints. There were multiple challenges, but she never gave up. Instead, she turned all the adversities into opportunities, and today, along with her running her shop, she proudly delivers smiles to Amazon customers on her two-wheeler as a delivery partner, breaking societal stereotypes. At every step, there was a new motivation to overcome challenges. For instance, when she got married, her motivation was to support her husband since his earnings alone were not enough to meet the family’s needs. When she became a mother, her determination was to provide her daughter with a quality education.

Aparna’s husband owned a small shop called the ‘Deka Pan Shop’. In 2013, when her husband decided to join the bank as a more stable source of income, Aparna decided to take over the day to day running of the shop instead of shutting it down. However, the store continued to have limited footfall and therefore, limited income. One of Aparna’s friends had heard about Amazon’s ‘I Have Space’ (IHS) program and encouraged her to enrol in the program in 2018. She embraced the opportunity with open arms, and became Amazon’s first IHS woman delivery partner in the North-East region.

Under the IHS program, Amazon India partners with local store owners to deliver products to customers within a 2 to 4 kilometres radius of their store, allowing them to supplement their regular income. The program is open to all store owners who have the ability to service on foot or a two-wheeler. The only requirement to be an ‘I Have Space’ partner is for the store owner to have sufficient time to make local deliveries during their off-peak hours, and space to store packages.

Kapa Harish, who became an IHS partner in early 2021, hasn’t looked back since.

Supplemental income for better planning

While Aparna was able to keep the shop up and running, money seemed to disappear as soon as it came since she needed to stock up on inventory and invest in her business. “Although the shop continued to run, at the end of the month, I would be left with very little money to spend on my family’s needs and my daughter’s education,” said Aparna.

“It feels great that I was able to support my family when they needed me the most.”

Since the time Aparna joined the IHS program, she has been able to supplement her income and save enough for all the requirements. “It feels great that I was able to support my family when they needed me the most.” said Aparna. She plans to expand her store using the supplemental income earned from making Amazon deliveries in the neighbourhood.

Driving change in the community

Aparna believes that the work she is doing will benefit not just her but other women as well. “There are societal stereotypes when a woman goes out for a delivery. If my work can change a few perceptions, I will be delighted.” she said.

“There are societal stereotypes when a woman goes out for a delivery. If my work can change a few perceptions, I will be delighted.”

Since Amazon India’s flagship program – ‘I Have Space’ (IHS) – began in 2015, thousands of entrepreneurs and owners of small, neighbourhood shops have been able to transform their lives. Currently, the program has more than 28,000 neighborhood and kirana partners in close to 420 cities across its network in India, each of which is a significant part of Amazon India’s delivery network.

Aparna Deka’s story is an inspiration to many, and all aspiring ‘I Have Space’ Partners can apply here -http://www.amazon.in/ihs