The Economics of Vending Chai

Images: Riyaz Shaik/ 7MB
What does it take to set up a chai stall in an Indian city? For migrants to the city, it is an age-no-bar, education-no-bar opportunity.

From a small, blue wooden cart, Krishnaveni has sold chai on the side of the road for thirty years. Starting her day at seven in the morning, she works a twelve-hour shift until it’s time to go home.

Krishnaveni, now in her mid-fifties, spent most of her life selling chai so her daughter wouldn’t have to. She’s been a one-woman show ever since her husband passed away 15 years ago. Her daughter is now an accountant with an MBA. Krishnaveni managed this without ever taking a loan.

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