Livelihood Training in Topsia
When I wrote to you back in July, I reported that our normal programmes, including this livelihood programme, had stalled. We were dealing with India’s COVID crisis and relief from hunger was our top priority. I also told you how our vehicle had fallen apart under the strain of carrying so much weight of rice, dal, cooking oil and so on. Well I am delighted to report that our marvellous team reached around 35,000 people with vital food rations over the lockdown period. And also, thanks to generous donors through GlobalGiving, the vehicle has been repaired and is now fully roadworthy again.
More good news is that many of our beneficiaries have come forward asking for new loans so that they can start up new businesses or revive an old one. And because of your generosity, the funds raised last year are now ready to be disbursed. Before that, though, we have launched a training programme helping the women with business skills, a little bit of bookkeeping and also helping them to identify what businesses are most appropriate for each area.
The scheme operates through a co-operative system, where a group of women, often friends and neighbours, will form a CIG or credit interest group. Each woman takes her own loan, but the group becomes severally responsible for repayment. We have found the system works very well and we routinely have a 98% repayment rate.
Conditions of the loans include an undertaking to keep the children in education and also to start a savings account. This gives the family some financial resilience.
I’m looking forward to reporting back to you what businesses these women set up and how they are faring. Meanwhile, thank you as ever for your amazing generosity.
Livelihood Training in Narkeldanga