Mahalingam, a self assured entrepreneur in his own village
My family and the people of my community give me a lot of respect because I have become more responsible now.", says Mahalingam
45-year-old Mahalingam lives in Sempathaniruppu in Sirkali Taluk of Nagapattinam district. Mahalingam started narrating his story as, “I have locomotor disability. Both my legs were affected with polio soon after birth. I move around on a tricycle. I am married and have 2 sons and a daughter. My wife stays at home and looks after the family.”
Mahalingam shares, “My children did not study much hence they work as farm labourers. Our situation is not good. I earn Rs.200 a day in a barber’s shop in the nearby village. I face a lot of difficulties in meeting my family’s basic needs. So I borrowed some money from a local villager to start my own hair cutting saloon in my small town. I was struggling to repay the high rate of interest charged by the lender and also meet my shop and family expenses.”
At one of the need assessment camps by Livelihood Resource Centre (LRC), Nagapattinam, Mahalingam was identified and assessed for his skills and abilities. LRC provided him with two trainings - Foundation Training and Entrepreneur Development training.
After attending the trainings, Mahalingam says, “These trainings helped me to identify the mistakes I was making in my business. LRC supported me on financial assistance of Rs.20000/- from the Village Poverty Reduction Committee Funds to help me repay my loans and invest some amount in developing my business. The new loan was interest free. The result is that I have been able to improve my business and buy 3 more hair cutting chairs. Now I employ 2 persons to assist me. One of them is a person with disability. I earn Rs.750 per day and after deducting my expenses I am able to put aside Rs.100 as savings.”
LRC has helped Mahalingam to become an employer. A grateful Mahalingam says, “Today I am planning to get one of my sons married. My family and the people of my community give me a lot of respect because I have become more responsible now.”
LRCs are supporting the disabled to come out of poverty with their trainings. They are linking them to interest free loans so the people with disability can establish and run their own small businesses profitably in their own villages. LRCs are run under the “Access to Livelihood” program of Leonard Cheshire Disability, an international organization working among people with disability. The Access to Livelihood program is supported by Accenture Foundation. The program has been implemented with success in the countries of India, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Philippines and in South Africa.