If a call could change a life, then the call that Manjula received, 10 days into the lockdown, from her BYST Mentor, would qualify as one! The lockdown imposed after the pandemic had a catastrophic impact on small and marginal businesses across the country and Manjula’s, a BYST entrepreneur from Chennai, was no exception. Her tailoring business was badly affected as she was not able to commute to her unit in Saligramam from her residence at Kundrathur, roughly 14kms apart. She was able to carry out some stitching work from home though, thanks to the two sewing machines that she had. However, the distress of a stalled unit was too much for her to bear day to day expenses had to be met and installment of the bank loan had to be paid and she did not know what to do. It was during such a time that she received a call from BYST Helpline. This Helpline is a unique initiative started by BYST to alleviate problems and mitigate the stress of entrepreneurs, in the wake of the lockdown that was imposed in March. Undertaken with the help of thousand-odd mentors from its pool of volunteer Mentors, BYST’s goal was to quickly reach out, through phone / WhatsApp calls, to over 5000 of its entrepreneurs to help them cope with this crisis situation — by sharing information and business tips, by mentoring them, and most importantly, by listening to them! Manjula was connected to Mentor Haribhaskar and the latter was able to understand the challenges that Manjula has been facing. He spent some time discussing and gave her some productive suggestions. He analyzed and suggested that Manjula could explore ways to slightly modify her business and look at options to stitch face masks, which are in great demand, to attract revenue. Even though Manjula was ready to take up the suggestion and work on it, she faced hindrances in finance raw materials had to be bought and her cash flow situation did not allow that. Mentor Haribhaskar identified a supplier of unfinished masks and referred Manjula to him. The work involved stitching the elastic part to the face mask. This way, she did not have to invest. Within a week Manjula was handed over a stock of 1500 facemasks that had to be stitched with elastic bands. Every piece of elastic stitched would earn her Rs.75 paise/piece (face mask). To deliver the stock on time, she somehow managed to transfer one of her machines from her unit to her house. Manjula’s elder son, who worked with her, pitched in as well. Manjula lives in Kundrathur, outskirts of Chennai with her 2 sons. A single mother, she has been working as a tailor for 23 years, supporting both her children with her meager income. With hard work & resilience she managed to set up her own unit in Saligramam, Chennai in 2013. Her elder son has been supporting her in the business while the younger one goes to college. In 2018 when Manjula approached SBI bank to expand her business she was, in turn, referred to BYST by the bank. BYST found in her a hardworking and sincere entrepreneur and was happy to extend mentoring support that is so much required for businesses such as hers. BYST also facilitated a loan of 3 lakhs from SBI. This helped her diversify her business and incorporate new designs as per the latest trends in the market. She has been regular with her loan repayment for 15 months now and though a complete repayment and loan closure is some distance away, Manjula is determined and hopes to take her business to the next level in the coming days. She is all set to deliver her first stock of stitched masks by this week with the support of BYST & Mentor Hari Bhaskar. She hopes to get the subsequent orders that would help her stay on course. Her story, of spotting and making use of opportunities in the darkest times, is sure to inspire others.