Steely Determination for a Business

S. Vengateshwari
My Transformation
From school dropout to confident entrepreneur.

My Story

I dropped out of school at a very young age and once I was old enough, my parents got me married. My husband turned out be an alcoholic who beat me everyday. I had little support. My father could hardly make ends meet and I had to raise two children. The future seemed hopeless. I was broken and disenchanted with life.

That’s when Usha, my neighbour and a social worker with SST, threw me a lifeline. She, along with her team, counselled my husband and eventually got him to give up drinking.

At the same time, they kept persuading me to become financially independent. Finally, I opened my own small utensil shop in Naguneri town in Tirunelveli district in Tamil Nadu with Rs. 10,000 borrowed from the Trust. That marked a huge shift for me.

I then gained a bit more confidence to expand my business. Recently, I managed to get a loan of of Rs. 100,000 to build on my business.

My transformation had made me want to work for the benefit of society. Along with other women in Self Help Group, I managed to persuade the District Collector to shift out a liquor shop that was near a school in our village, so that young children don’t get misguided. 

The SST Way

SST social worker Usha who mentored Vengateshwari

As a neighbour, I witnessed the abuse that Vengateshwari put up with everyday. She suffered at the hands of her husband but I felt helpless then.

Years later, after I joined SST, I was posted in my village and I saw it as a chance to offer her support.

It took me three months to convince Vengateshwari that she could change her life. Along with other health workers, I also succeeded in steering her husband away from drink.

Vengateshwari started with a small shop. Her confidence in her business impressed lenders so much that they loaned her Rs. 100,000 instead of the Rs. 50,000 they had previously agreed to.

Today, she works for the welfare of all in the community. Her son has completed his Diploma and her daughter is a health worker.

What’s even more heartening is that Vengateshwari’s husband, mother-in-law and daughter, help her with her business during weekends.

Our Takeaways

As change agents, we make an effort to bring stability to people’s lives. This, we believe, is key before helping them find meaningful work.

It is gratifying to see a motivated Vengateshwari become a change agent herself and help others in the village.

For us, a single life transformed in a village or community means a change for the good that can lead to multiple benefits.