The perseverance of the human spirit to overcome poverty is without a doubt, truly remarkable. But for the help of charities, NGOs and government aid, many families would be left in dire straits without any form of relief. For the four women whose stories are told below, help has been close at hand from Tech Outreach which aids women in need through a Micro Credit Financing programme. Budding entrepreneurs can borrow small sums of money to begin a business and repay their loan within a stipulated time.
In addition, Tech Outreach also seeks to empower these women through education in the basic principles of business. Each woman is expected to attend a six month course in the Gender and Entrepreneurship Development Programme at Sunway College where the skills necessary for enterprise, including basic accounting and marketing are taught. As well as entrepreneurship, all women on the programme are given practical help and continued advice and support.
These women like many on the programme have battled against all odds to rise up against adversity and make something of their lives in spite of poverty and physical and mental abuse.
Success story #1 – Vasanthi Vadiveloo
Vasanthi 43, is the proud mother of two girls aged 17 and 13. Two years ago her husband now 45, suffered a debilitating stoke that left him housebound and in need of hospitalization at least once a week. His catering business collapsed and they lost everything. Not one to give up, Vasanthi took any job, including washing dishes for RM20 a day at a nearby restaurant but was soon redundant
Holding on to a job became virtually impossible as she was constantly called away to her husband’s side. Employer after employer was forced to let her go as they were unable to give her time off to deal with her husband. With no one to depend on, Vasanthi found herself alone with a physically fragile husband and 2 young children.
Her foray into enterprise began with having to charge neighbors who were constantly asking to borrow small items of groceries from her. No longer able to give these things away, Vasanthi realised that she could open and run a small convenience store from her flat. With the help of a RM1000 loan from Tech Outreach, Vasanthi was able to buy onions, garlic, oil, beverages and rice as well as chips to sell from the confines of her home.
Demand is encouraging; she earns enough to pay the rent with her profits and now sells homemade snacks and ice cream by popular demand.
Vasanthi has been able to repay her loan. Although life continues to be a struggle, she perseveres relentlessly. Her goal is to eventually earn enough money to purchase the home they currently rent for RM300 a month.
Success story #2 – Shanti Selvakumar
Shanti Selvakumar 43, has a lot to be thankful for, not least for the fact that she has the support of a hardworking and loving husband who isn’t ashamed to admit that his wife is now the main breadwinner in the family. He is in awe of his talented wife who started her tailoring business with a small loan from Tech Outreach’s Microcredit Finance Programme.
Today, Shanti is one of TO’s best success stories. Her one woman business which she operates from home, brings in profits of at least RM600 a month from the stitching of elaborate bed linen, curtains and cushion covers.
Her clients are so delighted with her work, that they constantly inundate her with requests for more. It is hard to believe that she has only been sewing professionally for just 3 years. She used to work in a college for RM700 a month, but half her salary went to her children’s babysitter. There simply wasn’t enough money and her child was always sick after returning from the sitter.
Shanti was introduced to Tech Outreach by a friend and underwent several rigorous interviews, before she was granted a small loan to get her started. As her business blossomed, so did her profits which she re-invested in new machinery. This further enhanced her products style and desirability which now have a greater degree of finesse. Shanti often works through the night to complete jobs, especially during festivals. She and her husband are both positive and excited about the future which is looking very bright.
Success story #3 – Jeyamary Anthony
Jeyamary 54, is older than many of other women but she is determined that she will provide a stable and safe home for her young daughter . Once a machine operator at an explosive factory, Jeya retired to a life which was fraught with hardship. She had little or no savings and whatever money she had saved, barely lasted a few months.
Her husband’s gambling problem left her with a huge mortgage which she works very hard to pay off. With a young daughter who is her pride and joy, Jeya’s main concern is ensuring that her daughter completes her education. With no other way to earn a living, Jeya turned to her culinary skills and decided to open a food stall. She secured a loan from Tech Outreach, and with it, practical advice on cleanliness, motivation and customer service which she immediately put into practice.
Her day begins at 3am every morning when she prepares all the ingredients necessary to cook on site. It takes her three trips on her bike to transport everything to the stall where she is ready to make traditional Indian food such as vadai, chapatti and dhall at 6.30. Her food sells fast and by 11.30, Jeya is all packed and ready to return home to wash the pots and beginthe process all over again.
Tech Outreach has given Jeyamary the confidence to believe in herself. “I feel I can do anything. Tech Outreach has helped me believe in myself”, she says proudly.
Success story #4 – Parameswari
Parameswari 33, is a feisty and sassy lady who is not about to feel sorry for her predicament. After being forced to leave her husband and her home, she realised that she needed to provide for her young children. She had done a little catering in the past for small parties and birthdays but now, with a larger business model in mind, she decided to open a food-stall.
She read about the loans Tech Outreach offered in Malaysia Nanban and immediately called. Parameswari, like all the others was allocated a mentor who guided her through the process of managing the loan and her savings and running the business efficiently.
With five children between the ages of 13 to 8 in tow, and an absentee husband, Parameswari opened her stall in Sungai Besi. Her days are long,usually starting at 4.30 every morning when she rises to make between 30 to 40 packets of nasi lemak. Once her children have been sent to school, the marketing for the stall begins and cooking is completed by 10am in time for the first customers around 11 and food is sold out by 4.
Her daily menu is an ecclectic mix of styles; she cooks five different scrumptious dishes each day, including chicken rendang, mixed rice, fried rice, fish in a sweet and sour sauce and mixed vegetables, which nets her at least RM 50 a day.
This determined lady has a great deal of ambition and one day hopes to open her own restaurant in Cheras. Although her estranged husband contributes to the children’s well-being, Parameswari is determined that she leaves behind her own legacy for them. My life is difficult now but I would like my children’s lives to better than mine. They have to receive an education.” she says of the reason for her need to succeed.
Her business venture however, is not without its dangers. Days earlier, she was attacked by petty criminals as she worked by her stall. Although the attack left her with a broken leg and temporarily immobile, her spirits have not been dampened and Parameswari is more determined than ever to move forward.
Do these success stories of women being empowered and freed from their shackles warm your heart and inspire you to do something?
You can play a part and bring change to the lives of women like Vasanthi, Shanti, Jeyamary and Parameswari. You can donate any amount here – Simply Giving.