Sathiya was new to terms like Self-Help Group (SHG) and Entrepreneurship until 2008, but not any more. Sathiya runs a Citizens’ Centre Enterprise (CCE) in Kancheepuram with the training and financial support from Hand in Hand. She was introduced to Hand in Hand by Vijayalakshmi, her neighbour, who is an active member of an SHG run by Hand in Hand and also owns a fancy items shop with loan support and mentoring from Hand in Hand. Though not convinced initially, Sathiya joined Hand in Hand’s Sri Durgai Amman SHG after seeing the rise in the economic level of Vijayalakshmi.
Sathiya holds a Bachelor degree in Computer Application but has no work experience. She is married into a seven - member family, all of whom are agricultural labourers. “I cannot imagine that I have changed so much. I was a very quiet person before joining the SHG. Now, I am the Animator of the group. I do not rely on my husband to accompany me everywhere, I go myself. My family welcomes this change”.
Sathiya’s CCE offers varied services like photocopying, printing, scanning, computer games and computer classes. She has also set up a small library in the Centre which is stocked with books for children. “The major chunk of my income comes from the computer classes and games”. She earns INR 1,800 – 2,000 a month and is intending to clear off the loan that she took from Hand in Hand. She had taken a loan of INR 50,000 of which INR 7,500 has been repaid. “My only intention is to clear off the loan. After that, I will gift my parents -in -law anything they want. They are a source of support and motivation to me”.
Sathiya is planning to learn Photoshop with the help of which she can expand her business. “My income will definitely increase after I learn Photoshop. My community marvels at my change. The CCE has given a new meaning to my life. Now, I do not ask my husband even a single rupee. I take care of my family’s monthly food expenses with the income from the CCE. This makes me feel my importance in the family” she says with a shy yet affirmative smile. Apart from the training on the income generation activity, Hand in Hand also trained her in the management of Good Governance Rights Protection Committee (GGRPC). The achievements that she was able to do with the help of the GGRPC are only a beginning. Through online petitions to the government, she was able to get additional water tanks in her village and was able to solve the mosquito problem in which the government municipality cleaned the village drainage and sprayed DDT.
“This is only a beginning,” says Sathiya in an affirmative tone.