When growing up, Palaniyammal and her sister did not attend school. Their father died while they were little, so the two girls and their mother moved in with their grandfather on their mother's side. Palaniyammal looked after her sister while her mom worked as coolie labor making 5 rupees a day. At the age of 13, Palaniyammal's grandparents arranged for her to marry an ice cream sales man who made about 100 rupees a day. Together the couple had two sons and two daughters. Their eldest daughter, Papathi, is 22 and is an intern at a doctor's office to be a physical therapist. Syyammal, their 20-year-old son, has completed his teacher's training and is now teaching the village's evening study center. Their third child, Pavithurai, is 17 and has just finished 12th Grade. She is trying to go to college. Finally, Alagu, their youngest son, is 12 and is in 8th Grade at Anderson School. Five years ago, IGL began training a Women's Transformational Group (WTG) in personal finance and the importance of saving and Palaniyammal was in that group. She started working for IGL as a daycare worker earning 750 rupees a month.
After a 6-month training period, IGL reviewed the group's financial books and performance and approved Palaniyammal for her first loan. The loan was 2,500 rupees and was to be repaid over a 10-month period with a flat 10% interest fee. This meant that the monthly payments were 275 rupees. With her first loan, Palaniyammal bought a goat, which then had two kids. She was able to sell all three for 7,500 rupees, and since she let the goats graze and didn't pay any expenses, Palaniyammal made a 4,750 rupee profit on her first loan. After repaying her first loan, Palaniyammal was approved for her second IGL loan. This loan was for 5,000 rupees with the same terms, which meant Palaniyammal had to make monthly payments of 550 rupees over a 10-month period. With her second loan, Palaniyammal purchased two goats. One goat became pregnant, while the other became sick. She was able to sell both for 5,000 rupees. This meant that she had a loss of 500 rupees, because of the interest fee. Fortunately, Palaniyammal was able to pay back the second loan in time and was approved for her third IGL loan
Palaniyammal's third loan was for 7,500 rupees (825 rupee monthly payments). She used it to buy a cow for 7,000 rupees. This cow became pregnant and Palaniyammal was able to sell it for 12,500 rupees, making a profit of 4,750 rupees after repaying the loan and the interest fee. This profit was put to use in paying for her children's education fees and teacher's training. Just this month Palaniyammal received a raise from IGL, so that she will now be working for 1,500 rupees a month - double her past monthly income. IGL has also recently provided her family with a house, so that she doesn't have to live under a thatched roof any longer. Additionally, IGL gave a partial scholarship towards Papathi's education. Palaniyammal is glad that IGL came to help her village because she uses their loans, as well as the internal loans of the WTG instead of the outside moneylender loans with higher interest. She is also grateful for the training that IGL has freely provided in sewing, in how to make baskets, and of course, in personal finance. She has become a role model for other parents in her village, so that they see her efforts, and make similar efforts for their children. Her dream is that her children will get good jobs and earn good salaries. Her daughter just got top marks at the local public school where she finished 12th Grade. Palaniyammal has high hopes for them.
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