TikTok is enabling entrepreneurs and workers in small-town India to showcase their skills and become influencers—and companies are now wooing them for marketing campaigns
When Shaikh Azhar was 9, he started working as a helper at a bakery in Aurangabad. His father, a construction worker, had fallen ill, and his mother, who had a few odd jobs cleaning houses, was finding it difficult to run a household of four. Azhar was employed at the bakery at a salary of ₹11 a day. Even in 2009, this was paltry—he barely took home ₹120 a week, says Azhar—but it was something. Over the years, as he developed an interest in baking and icing cakes, he started earning more, and a few years later he was making ₹5,000 a month. Life was better, and Azhar was dreaming of going to college to study hotel management after his class XII board exams. But it didn’t happen, again because there wasn’t enough money to pay for college.