MALAYSIA - When her husband was diagnosed with cancer 22 years ago, K. Tamil Selvi's world came crashing down.
However, her fear soon turned into admiration for Ganesan Gopal, 53, when he quit his job as a hospital staff and started up his own insurance business.
His strong willpower despite his illness, she said, inspired the housewife to take up courses in bridal makeup, tailoring and teaching with the hope of someday starting up her own business.
At the age of 39, Tamil Selvi set up her own transport business with two buses and two vans.
After 14 years into the business, she faced various problems with the drivers she had hired and decided to give up the business.
She then started up a tailoring and boutique business near her home in Seremban.
The business soon picked up and she opened a second outlet in the city, and hired three workers to help with the orders.
When the opportunity arised for Tamil Selvi, now 50, to join a two-day entrepreneurship course for women, she immediately accepted it.
"The most important things I learnt during the course was how to build a rapport and a long lasting relationship with customers.
"Although it was a short course, I learnt so much.
"They taught us about the importance of hard work and how to sustain a successful business.
"They motivated us by sharing with us the inspiring stories of hugely successful businessmen like (Tan Sri) Tony Fernandes (GCEO of AirAsia), and how they never gave up until they finally succeeded," she said.
The course was conducted by Amanah Ikhtiar Malaysia (AIM) which runs workshops for women to help them start and develop their own businesses to improve their source of income.
The determination of both Tamil Selvi and her husband has even inspired their children as well, with their eldest son having also set up his own pest control business.
The couple has five sons, with three younger ones still studying.
Tamil Selvi said she was truly inspired by her husband's determination and strength in working hard and staying positive despite his health problems.
"Business is flourishing. I have taken the advice of the trainers and I am already noticing a difference as my rapport with my customers is improving.
"At the moment, with Deepavali this weekend, we are overwhelmed with orders.
"It has come to the extent that we are unable to cope with anymore orders for now and are forced to reject new requests," said Tamil Selvi.
Asked about the secret of the couple's success, she said it was strong willpower and a never-give-up attitude.