Sudar Sakthi, Arivizhimangalam ( Nannilam)
Muthulakshmi is a 42-year-old widowed woman from Arivizhimangalam village of Thiruvarur district. She runs a petty shop attached to her residence. She sells snacks, candies, bottled juices, eggs etc at her shop. And also being the local shop she is able to cater to the needs of her neighborhood. She sells essentials like soaps, washing powders, stationaries, etc. The women of the neighborhood feel that her shop has been a blessing, as they don’t have to travel to the town to purchase a small soap or pen. With the earnings from her shop, she is able to manage the household expenses to an extent. Her elder works in a wholesale grocery store in Thiruvarur town. He purchases stocks from his workplace and this is helpful for Muthulakshmi. Her second son is studying in Class 10. Apart from this she also does backyard poultry and goat rearing which helps them meet their expenses. Since the water in the locality is erratic it is difficult for her crops to grow. She remembers vividly of her experience of tasting the well water for the first time and how salty it was.
With plans of sending his second son to college, she wishes to expand her shop so that she will be able to pay for his diploma admission. She plans to expand her petty shop by selling cooking masalas and ingredients which will be of certain need. She also wants to invest in her dairy and poultry in order to increase her income. She thanked her lenders for helping out in the time of need.
Andal Sakthi, Thirukannapuram (Nannilam)
Purpose of loan: Dairy
Sundharavalli works as an Anganwadi employee in a nearby school and seemed happy to meet me with the field officer. After the brief introduction, we started talking about her daily chores and her married life.
Her husband is a priest in the nearby temple who had retired but continues to do his divine duty. She fondly joked about how fortunate enough she was to have her in-laws home closer to her parent’s home so she doesn’t miss her home a lot. She has a son who works in Chennai and is married. Once we started talking about her cow her mood brightened (I hope you could see the happiness on her face on the mention of the cow) she reminisced into her early memories when she had 6 cows in her house and how much she loved them. She missed them not long until the loan helped her buy a new cow. She also talked about how fondly she used to feed two monkeys that had developed a habit of visiting her home every morning. She used to feed them milk and banana that her husband bought until they stopped visiting after one day. She misses them as well. I was tempted to ask what other animals she loves for which she replied she also had a few regular street dogs and cats that visited her home often.
For Sundharavalli, the loan has not only provided her with a monthly income to sustain her old age but also has helped her grow cows again. She expressed her gratitude for her lenders. She hugged a passing cow on her way and stopped to say that “It doesn’t matter if it is someone else’s cow, I love them all alike”. She wants to have more cows now, probably more than 6 I guess.
Sri Mahakaliyamman Sakthi, Aprakudi (Thiruthuraipoondi)
Purpose of loan: Plastic business
Amutha is a young woman from Aprakkudi, a small village in Thiruvarur district of Tamil Nadu. She is a mother of two daughters. She had taken a loan from Velicham Finance Private Limited to expand her plastic sales business. She used the loan amount to purchase plastic buckets, trays, and containers from the local market and sells them along with her husband. Since she is pregnant now her husband sells all the goods on his own. Her family helps him manage the sales as they are also into the same business. They purchase in bulk-hiring a vehicle and unload the goods at their respective houses. Then they set out for selling the buckets on small vehicles.
They usually cover the streets nearby who are their target customers. They had set up a small shop instead of a going around selling the products but it didn’t turn out successful. So they switched back to going to the customer’s house on their own. She showed me the type of items she sells. “We sell plastic water containers that come in different sizes, and drums with a lid can be used to store rice, chillis, and the ones with vents are for storing vegetables”. “This is the only business we know,” said Amutha and she thanked the lenders for helping her pursue the business.