In a day that saw us interact with five borrowers, Soorampatty village was our last stop, where we were scheduled to meet Sumathi. It was high noon when we arrived in the village and the streets wore a deserted look. Sumathi, the proprietor of a ‘petty store’, a local store that sells household conveniences, had downed the store’s shutters and had taken refuge in her home adjoining the store to escape the midday heat.
Sumathi is the leader of a JLG that is based in the village of Soorampatty. Excited to meet us, she opened her store and we got right down to talking about her new enterprise. Sumathi had undergone training in making wire-bags about 7 months ago and obtained a microloan to start a microenterprise. She used the loan amount to purchase raw material and her monthly income today is higher than what it had been just six months earlier. “I am able to make at least Rs.2,000 in profits alone from making these wire bags,” Sumathi explained. She sources the raw material for making the wire bags from the town of Musiri, the nearest urban cluster. “After making the wire-bags, I sell a few of them at the store here and I take the rest back to Musiri, where I sell them to a few traders,” said Sumathi of her mode of operation. She added that she could make a lot more than Rs.2,000 if time permitted. She tries to balance her responsibilities and time between her kids, the store and making the wire-bags.
When I asked her what was her motivation for taking up the training, she offered me a narrative of the days of training and how she felt about learning a new skill. “My friends insisted on me attending the course. At first, I was very apprehensive about the whole thing. ‘How will I manage travelling that distance with my kids? How will I learn this skill with just two or three days’ training?’ I thought to myself. Then I realized that nothing in life comes easy and I made a mission out of learning this skill,” Sumathi narrated. Today, Sumathi is extremely glad that she pulled herself to attend the training.
Listen to Sumathi as she narrates how she overcame her initial reluctance to learn a new skill.
With thriving sales at her petty store and the added income from her wire bag sales, Sumathi is a busy entrepreneur and mother. She deftly balances her duties single-handedly often times. Her husband is engaged as a lorry driver and there are many days when this resilient woman juggles responsibilities with nothing but her own wits. Her amazing skill at multi-tasking these challenges was not lost on me.
During our meeting, Sumathi’s two sons, aged 6 and 3, were hopping all over the place causing Sumathi to constantly keep a careful eye on them as we carried on our conversation. It sure must have been hard attending that training with these two toddlers brimming with so much energy, I thought to myself. But therein lay Sumathi’s inspiration – she is making these sacrifices and getting out of her comfort zone to create a better future for her children.
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