Microcredit Empowers Our CC

VV Community Correspondent  Rohini takes microloan, buys a computer to improve her livelihood through IndiaUnheard. Rohini, the correspondent of this video, is from a poor farming family. She has struggled to make ends meet since she got married 8 years ago, but her local microcredit group has made life a lot easier. What’s she doing with her latest loan? She’s using it to buy a computer. Says a proud Rohini, ‘I am the first woman to buy a computer in my village. Everyone is coming to my house to see how a computer looks and how the buttons work. I’m so excited! Now I can do all my IndiaUnheard work - writing scripts, transferring visuals, burning DVDs -- from my own computer.” In a village as rural as hers’, where many people still use buffalo carts to get around, a computer is indeed a rarity. Rohini’s video talks about the microcredit program she’s part of. It was first introduced in Rohini’s village by a local NGO called Ajeet Yuva Pratishthan but is now completely run by Rohini and the other women members. All of them are illiterates or semi-literates with few economic assets, such as cattle or cultivable land. The women have been saving about Rs. 100 per month (about two dollars) for the last eight years. As a result, they can take out loans of up to Rs. 15,000-25,000. Some women have used them to set up small businesses like a bangle or sari shop. Rohini used hers to buy a computer with a loan of Rs 25,000. She had to travel for 17 hours to go to Mumbai to buy the computer, but that didn’t stop her. For the past seven months she had been using a computer in a cyber café which is about 45 minutes away from her home. The café charged her Rs 35 per hour. “Every time I would go there, I used to be scared of using a computer and being blamed for causing damage.“ She adds, “now, I don’t have that tension when I work. And I can also explore different ways to use the computer to earn more.” Her next plan is to get an Internet connection. Once she does that, she can upload her own videos, watch the videos of her other friends who are IU correspondents, and post her own updates to facebook and twitter. (These are now done by VV staff in the Goa office, since almost no IU correspondents have internet access. And for Rohini, who only speaks Hindi and Marathi, translation would be another challenge, but perhaps tools like google translator could help her.) It’s clear that access to technology is changing the power dynamics in Rohini’s life. Says Rohini of her husband, a farmer, who also has aspirations in the media field, “I’m now teaching my husband how to use a computer. He recently learnt photography and I am going to show him how to upload his photos on the web, create an album and email them to his clients. I am actually using what I learnt at the training program of IndiaUnheard.” Rohini has undoubtedly taken a big step by buying a computer, and she’s banking on media to lift her family out of poverty. People interested in learning more about media entrepreneurship can read elsewhere on the VV website about VV’s efforts in this arena, such as our research project with the leading business school of Asia, the Indian Institute of Management-Ahmedabad; our video and livelihoods program in the favelas of Brazil; the wedding video production course he helped to set up with our partner Navsarjan in Ahmedabad; and the earned income focus of our CVU program, where one CVU achieved 40% financial sustainability last year. We plan to share Rohini’s story with the other IU Community Correspondents and assist those who so desire in getting bank loans for setting up their own media businesses, just like Rohini. Watch Rohini’s profile video here

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