Dennis Marcus Mathew

ALAPPUZHA: The Indian cricket team's Caribbean sojourn might have gone awry, but in the faraway Valavanadu of Alappuzha district, a kind gesture by a man from the scenic islands is promising to make life a lot better for one woman and her small coir industry.

Pushpalatha, who runs a small-scale coir product manufacturing unit at Kunnathuchirayil here, is now beaming ear to ear with gratitude to Courtney Lodge, chief executive officer of the Caribbean Confederation of Credit Unions. Mr. Lodge, who visited her `factory' - Pushpalatha Coir Works - on Wednesday, was impressed with the work she was doing and more so, due to the fact that she was ensuring a stable income to four others as well. However, when he came to know that profits remained a dream for the 10-year-old enterprise owing to the loans that kept the business afloat, he did not hesitate. He immediately handed over a cheque for $200.

There was only one condition. "Send me the receipt once you repay your loans with this sum. And make sure that you make some profits soon." Mr. Lodge, a delegate of the Sixth Commonwealth-India Small Business Competitiveness Development Programme that visited several small-scale industries and public sector units in the district on Wednesday, was moved when Ms. Pushpalatha told him how the repayment of the loan, though a mere Rs.200 per month, was hampering her plans to buy more raw material and increase production of fibre mats and other coir products.

Talking to The Hindu later, Ms. Pushpalatha said she had set up her mini-industry with the help of a loan from the District Cooperative Bank. Though that loan was repaid long back, the increasing prices of raw material and a not-so-encouraging market forced her to go in for another Rs.10,000 loan, this time from the local neighbourhood group (Ayalkootam).

"If the burden of the loan were not there, I could divert our revenue for purchase of more materials and in turn increase production. This $200 will help me in doing that to a large extent," she said.