Freedom Ride! Banking on Bicycles in Rural India
After finishing the 7th grade, Asma Tamboli wanted to continue her education in high school. She requested a job from the Mann Deshi Mahila Bank so that she could earn money to buy a bicycle. When asked why, she replied that she had no transportation from her village to high school, and her parents had urged her to drop out because they were worried about her walking the long distance to school. Asma felt that using a bicycle to get to school would be the ideal solution but her parents could not afford one. The Bank agreed to employ her for the summer, and she was able to purchase a bicycle and continue her education.
Asma was the inspiration behind the Mann Deshi rural women’s micro-finance Bank’s Freedom Ride Bicycle Program. Asma’s story illustrates some of the main barriers facing rural girls who wish to continue their education. Poor public transportation, high costs for bicycles, and reluctance of parents to allow girls to walk long distances to school are only some of the difficulties rural girls face in pursuing their education. The Freedom Ride Bicycle Program is designed to help alleviate these problems, by providing loans at 0% interest to girls and their families to buy bicycles, and has helped prevent hundreds of girls from dropping out of school prematurely. We also have a special fund allocated for those who cannot even afford a loan but show a strong commitment to education, and we donate bicycles to these girls. The Bank is proud of Asma’s innovation and commitment to education, and continues to support others who want to follow in her footsteps.
You can help support girls like Asma by providing seed money for bicycles. Adopting one girl costs only $50, a class of 5 girls can be adopted for $250, and 10 girls for $500. You can also sponsor a village which has achieved 100% enrollment of girls in school for $2250. Mann Deshi can send you information about and pictures of the specific girls you have helped and provide you with the opportunity keep up with her progress in school.