Micro-finance Changes Women’s Lives

Women in rural Orissa are empowered through micro-finance initiatives. Sarita herself belongs to three different microfinance groups in Kochilanuagaon village, and acts as secretary for one of them. Her mother and aunt are also members of these groups, and Sarita says there are around twenty such units in her village, consisting of not only housewives but also labourers and domestic workers. The members of these groups save money from their household savings and contribute to a fund from which they draw large amounts to start micro-businesses. Sarita tells us that there is a social organization called CYSD who helps women to start these groups, and they have a meeting on the 5th of every month. “The group I show in my video was the first to start in my village,” says Sarita. “I can say that all the women who are a part of these groups, who are active members have been helped a lot. Especially for things like education and marriages and purchase of land. The advantage is that we can borrow money from our microfinance group at a lower interest. The money-lenders would charge around 5-10%, and now we have to pay only 2%.” As in our Community Correspondent Rohini’s video on a microfinance group in Walhe village in Maharashtra, the women in Sarita’s video have been empowered similarly. Not only have they been able to become self-sufficient, they have also found a social circle and a support group. Furthermore, they are now freer to move around outside their houses and learn about savings and investment, things which would have been unimaginable earlier. Sarita says that at first it was mostly women who participated but now the men have started joining as well. “It’s a real achievement,” she said.

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