Noorbanu and Rajah in their shoe factory
One of the most uplifting experiences when I visit Kolkata is a trip to visit the women who have set up small businesses.
Uplifting because the impact of these loans is seen so quickly.
Thanks to your generosity, we can distribute microloans to vulnerable women who live in the squatter camps beside the railways and sewers. Almost all are former rag pickers, who have scraped by and fed their families by collecting other peoples waste and selling it on to dealers. With no access to financial services (other than loan sharks) these women have little hope of changing their lives
Take Noorbanu. She took a small loan of Rs 15,000 (£166/USD219) in June 2017. She set up a small shoe making business. Her husband Rajah got involved and they grew the business together, taking the finished goods to sell to merchants at one of Kolkata’s biggest markets. By March 2018 the family income had risen from Rs7000 a month to Rs13000 (this is a very good income, and much more than many of Tiljala SHED’s staff earn). The original loan was paid off in full by March 2018, but Noorbanu applied for a further loan. This time they took Rs20,000 and started to expand the business and to take on staff. The pictures you see were taken in January when I visited this industrious little factory built on a bank beside the railway. The Rs20,000 was also returned very quickly and Noorbanu now employs 8 staff. They make 100 pairs of shoes a day and clear Rs15 – 20 profit per pair.
Rajah is clearly in charge of the factory, but Noorbanu is responsible for the finances and they seem to be a great team. They are planning a future away from the chaos of the railway squatters where they can set up a formal factory and a comfortable home.
By all accounts, like so many of the men in these communities, Rajah had been a bit of a troublemaker, drinking hooch and becoming violent. But he is a changed man, they say, having put all of that behind him.
In fact, the reduction in domestic violence is, for me, one of the most significant outcomes of this excellent project. With access to credit these women are truly empowered to change their own and their families’ lives.
And, of course, the Rs35,000 lent to Noorbanu, was returned to the Revolving Fund and is now busy helping other families to lift themselves out of poverty and despair.
Please consider a generous donation today – even better a regular contribution – so that you can transform the lives of extremely vulnerable women in this forgotten part of Kolkata.
This week the first $50 (£38) of every donation attracts an additional 60% in matched funding. So, if you are a UK taxpayer a donation of £38 is worth over £70 to us until Friday 12th April 2019
Number of beneficiaries/loans since June 2016 428
Beneficiaries with 2nd loans 50
Beneficiaries with 3rd loans 4
Total amount disbursed £81,344 (about half is from returned loans)
Loan recovery rate 96.6% (Yes, really)
Noornbanu's factory. Eight employees and growing..