Shembagavalli -  Co-op Manager since 2011, India

Shembagavalli grew up in the leprosy colony. For 10 years, she and her family had to take anti-viral medicine so that they wouldn’t get leprosy like their father. Today this co-op meets and works in the local community center in the leprosy colony.

Shembagavalli not only know poverty, but she knows what it feels like to be an outcast. She has a great desire to mentor, teach, and lead others. She loves learning new things, especially business skills. She is a leader that shows by example how to treat others with kindness and fairness.

Shembagavalli has been married to Elumalai for 26 years. Though it was an arranged marriage they love each other greatly. They have two teenage children Gopinath (16) and Devaraj (14). Her husband gets a daily wage as a helper of about $42 USD month. Because of the increased income from the pearl co-op, they have enough money to send their children to school.

She desires to earn money to help their family so her children can go to a proper school and continue with their learning after high school.