Usha standing next to a car.

Meet Usha, the taxi owner

“I had learnt sewing and I thought that would be a good enterprise to start since very few in the village knew to stitch,” explains Usha. Self-Help Groups have played a pivotal role in empowering many women. Usha is another striking example of the constructive difference Self-Help Groups can bring about.

An eager entrepreneur

Usha has always liked to make the most of any opportunity that comes her way. And so her family was not surprised when she joined Hand in Hand’s Chevendi Self-Help Group five years ago.

Usha standing outside one of her taxis. Through the first loan of INR 5,000 (US $83) made available to her she obtained a sewing machine and started a micro-enterprise. She began earning about INR 150 (US $2.50) a day and was able to supplement the meagre income that her husband earned as a farm labourer.

When the chance to obtain the second loan came by, Usha was clear on how she wanted to use it: buying a share auto (a three-wheeler public transport vehicle). “The main road is about 3 km away and apart from the government bus, there was no other means of public transport for villagers to commute in.”

She was the first person in the village to buy the share auto which is driven by her younger brother. Inspired by her, a few others followed suit. “I am happy that I have set up enterprises which not only help me but also people in our village,” she says.

Usha has always liked to make the most of any opportunity that comes her way

A successful trainer

Usha has also successfully trained 30 Self-Help Group women in tailoring, many of whom have set up their own enterprises. “I’m proud that I have been able to help other women set up similar enterprises, ” she says.

Usha sewing with a sewing machine.

Through her tailoring & transport enterprise, Usha earns about INR 6,000 (US $100) a month. The amount is substantially more than the few-hundred her husband earns as a farm labourer.

Hand in Hand, she says, not only gave her the opportunity to become an entrepreneur, but it also gave her another chance at completing Grade 10. When Hand in Hand started its Village Uplift Programme at Thalikkal village, Usha came to know about the transit school that Hand in Hand runs for Grade 10 dropouts. Having failed the Grade 10 exams, Usha enrolled herself in the transit school and successfully cleared the Grade 10 exam.

Thalikkal, Tamil Nadu, India

Usha’s results

Trained 30 Self-Help Group members tailoring

Monthly earnings INR 6,000 (US $100)

Passed Grade 10 exam