Asha is 46 years old and lives in a makeshift shelter beside the open sewer in the Kolkata suburb of Topsia. After her husband died of cancer five years ago, Asha had to find a way of supporting herself and seven other family members. She sold her precious wedding dowry jewellery – a set of earrings – and started her business. She went to the market and bought garments at wholesale prices and then sold door to door for a small profit. Gradually the business grew. In August this year Asha took a small loan of Rs20,000 from this microfinance project and she was able to take the business to another level. She no longer goes from house to house: her customers come to her. They buy on credit and repay her in weekly instalments.
Before taking out this loan Asha earned just 4000 to 5000 rupees per month, barely enough to feed 8 hungry mouths. Since she took the loan her income has increase to 12 – 13,000 rupees per month. Her dream is to own a small shop.
It is thanks to the generosity of our donors that women like Asha have been able to turn their lives around. Since this project was launched in 2016 over 520 small loans have been made to destitute families. 142 loans went to rag picker families and nearly 400 went to ultra-poor families. Every loan is repaid so that the funds can be recycled to help other families. The repayment rate hovers around the 95% - 98% mark – and this is remarkable given that the beneficiaries are almost all illiterate. A recent survey shows that 74% of the beneficiary families have maintained an increased income since taking out the loan – and many of the families, like Asha’s, have considerably increased their incomes. Some have even been able to move away from the squatter camps and into permanent legal accommodation.
This programme is very popular in the local community and also with our staff. They really see the difference financial inclusion makes to some of India’s most vulnerable people. The benficiaries themselves want to feel they are not receiving aid, but are accessing credit. They are proud to repay their loans and often repay ahead of schedule. A truly empowering project. Thank you for your generosity.
A note: You will have heard from GlobalGiving that there is a problem disbursing your donations to the project. This is because all GlobalGiving's disbursements to Indian projects have been held up at government level. I am working on a solution which will unblock the funds and get your donations safely where they need to go. Meanwhile, the project is moving forward as we always aim to keep a modest cushion of funds for just this eventuality. Thank you for your patience.
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