Micro steps to empower women

Women beneficiaries of a ­microfinance project being ­implemented by RC Chennai Galaxy, D 3232, have become successful ­entrepreneurs with regular ­training imparted to them at the two ­centres of SPS India ­Foundation, an NGO. This ­multi-district project ­involving ­international partners — RC Geleen, the Netherlands, ­District 1550, and Districts 1870 (­Germany) and 1630 (Belgium and ­Luxembourg) — aims to free women SHGs from the clutches of private money ­lenders, who charge very high rates of interest, even as they were unable to access bank loans without any collaterals.

Under the Women 1000+ ­project, the club offers loans up to ₹15,000 for an entrepreneur at an interest rate of 1.2 per cent a month or 6.6 per cent as cumulative ­interest for 10 months by which time they had to return the money. Till now, the project has disbursed ₹35 lakh to nearly 300 women from 40 groups at Basin Bridge in Chennai, and ­Vilathikulam ­village and ­Kovilpatti in Tuticorin ­district. Recently, the club has raised the loan ceiling to ₹30,000 for ­borrowers at Basin Bridge.

Beneficiaries at the loan disbursement event in Chennai.
Beneficiaries at the loan disbursement event in Chennai.

“The total project cost is $108,000 and we have time till July 2018 to disburse the ­sanctioned loan amount,” says Anshul ­Agarwal, President, RC Chennai Galaxy.

The club has given ₹30 lakh to SPS Foundation for training the SHGs at its centres in Basin Bridge and Vilathikulam. “There is no timeframe for imparting ­training to women entrepreneurs and the amount will also take care of ­administrative expenses at these centres,” informs Anshul.

Vocational and ­leadership skills and other ­nitty-gritties of running an enterprise such as ­profitable investment, ­transaction deals, ­documentation and account-­keeping are taught at the SPS centres. During their visit to ­Vilathikulam recently, a Rotary team led by Anshul found that women are being trained in ­profitable ventures such as trading in goats, fish, agriculture, garment retailing and basketry.

Veeralakshmi (28) from ­Muthalipatti village in Tuticorin purchased a goat and upgraded her farming with a loan of ₹ 15,000. She is the first woman graduate in her village and feels ­education of girl children is a must for empowerment. “I motivate ­members in my ­Sembaruthi SHG to send their children to school and save enough money for the future.”

After being trained at SPS ­centre in Vilathikulam, her SHG members had improved their monthly savings to over ₹200.

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