Microcredit to the rescue

SHG members making candles
SHG members making candles

Ganapi Kumbhar, displaying her new potter’s wheel bought with a loan from her Self Help Group (SHG) says, “With one wheel my husband and I could earlier make earthenware pots for only the Bhatkal shandy. We are now able to make pots and other items for three weekly shandies in Bhatkal, Murdeshwar and Manki. Our weekly income has increased three times … God bless the Rotarians.”

Aruna Madival, member of Omkar Swasahaya Sangh, Shirali, who used the microcredit loan funds to pay tuition fees for her daughter in a school in Bhatkal, adds that but for this loan her daughter could not have attended a private school.

Since 2009 RC Bhatkal, D 3170, has been promoting financial independence in the women of villages in and around the Bhatkal taluka in ­Karnataka with microcredit loans. TRF has sanctioned this project worth Rs 13 lakh, which has financial support from RC La Jolla Sunrise, D 5340, ­California, USA, and District 2080, Italy.

How it works

The club gives loans ranging from Rs 50,000 to Rs 100,000 to SHGs formed with rural women as members. They meet weekly and pool in their savings which are deposited in a savings bank account. SHGs disburse small loans to their members for income-­generating activities such as candle making, floriculture, purchase of irrigation pumps for vegetable gardens and ­sewing machines to set up small tailoring units. Microcredit loans have also helped them to pay for their children’s education. Vocational training courses and skill development programmes are also organised by the club in association with the government for the SHGs, who are also educated on the importance of saving, family planning and personal hygiene.

Six such groups have been given a total loan of Rs 1 million between 2010–12, and the entire capital has been repaid along with interest. The Project Committee has formed 10 new SHGs in 2014–2015.

“I have a cleaner, smoke-free kitchen and no back-breaking journeys to the forest to collect firewood. I used to cook food for the entire family of 12 on wood fire all these years,” says Gangamma Gonda of Neerkanta village. A loan from Shri Annapoorneshwari Swasahaya Sangh has helped her purchase a gas stove and also get an LPG connection. The microcredit project funds helped Nagalaxmi Naik, an SHG member, to pay off the medical bills for her son’s emergency surgery at a city hospital and Kalpana Gonda, a member of Nagashree Swasahaya Sangh in Jali village, to construct a toilet for her home.

Upgrading daycare centres

The second part of the MG project was to develop good daycare centres for children of working women in rural areas. The existing anganwadis are large halls where children are looked after and given midday meals. The children are taught rhymes and folk songs, alphabets and numbers from paintings on the walls. Under this project, the Rotarians have so far equipped five day care centres with colourful desks and chairs, educational toys, given teaching aids to teachers and equipment and utensils for the meals. They plan to upgrade the facilities of 15 more centres this year.

(The writer is member of RC Bhatkal, D 3170.)

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