The word ‘Hero’ is very often used in films to denote a fictional character. Are ‘heroes’ for real? To a daughter, her father is a hero. A wife can see her husband as a hero. A popular actor can be a hero to his ardent fan.
During the pandemic, the term ‘hero’ saw a different light. Innumerable people went above and beyond their capabilities to help fellow humans. Not out of necessity, but out of compassion and love. In the eyes of the public, these selfless humanitarians were the real unsung heroes.
Sivakumar, a native of Chennai, is the hero of our story. So, what’s his story? Sivakumar decided to quit his low-paying job one day and start his own business. He had always admired bus drivers for their relentless service. He wanted to become one by owning a commercial vehicle. Hailing from a lower middle-class background, Sivakumar could not afford the cost. He decided to borrow money from Equitas Small Finance Bank. The bank’s commercial vehicle loan helped him become a proud owner of a bus. With a ray of hope and abundant joy, he kickstarted his business.
Unexpectedly, within a month, the pandemic-induced lockdown was implemented. Sivakumar’s happiness was short-lived, as he was worried about repaying the loan without a business.
“I felt extremely low. The fear of not having a job and repaying the loan amount scared me. But, the bank was beneficial and understanding. I was informed not to worry as my EMI was kept on hold amidst the pandemic. The bank stated that I can repay the loan once I resumed my business. This made me feel better,” says Sivakumar.
With no business and revenue, he had a hard time running his family. But, the financial strain imposed by the pandemic did not stop Sivakumar from becoming a humanitarian. A week later, Sivakumar’s neighbour was critically ill. As the ambulance services were busy during the pandemic, his neighbour could not get one. After failed attempts to get the ambulance to his street, Sivakumar took his neighbour to the hospital all by himself and saved his life. This feeling was new to him. He felt rewarded, fulfilled, and empowered.
While returning home, a brilliant idea popped into his mind. “I thought why not convert my bus into an ambulance! Because the government ambulances were consistently busy during the pandemic and private ambulances charged too much. With the help of Equitas Bank, I got a temporary ambulance license for my bus, and I converted it into a mobile vehicle to help those in need,” says Sivakumar with a proud smile.
During the pandemic, Sivakumar helped countless people. He adds, “I did not charge people who were financially weak. I charged a minimum amount to those who could pay. This helped me support my own family apart from others.” Today, Sivakumar is back to business. The fact that Equitas Bank had a little part in his journey of goodwill amid the difficult times fills it with genuine pride.