A group of 18 women in one of our community projects in Bangalore came together in 2019 with the focus to begin small savings that will improve their living conditions. It was indeed perfect timing, as despite the pandemic, the group has been successfully helping the women meet their financial needs.
Most of the women did not know much about how self-help groups function, but once our partner staff explained about the benefits of such groups and how they can help in financial planning, many were keen to join.
Roopa, who is also our vocational tailoring course alum, is now part of this self-help group. “Our group name means ‘taking new shape’, and it has been true for me,” she says. “We started saving Rs. 200 (4 AUD) every month. I was able to take a loan of Rs. 5000 (94 AUD) from the group to pay the school fees for both my children.”
Rekha is part of a similar group in Chennai, India. She was also part of the vocational tailoring class and picked up the skill quite easily. Her enthusiasm and commitment made her a hit among her neighbours and she started taking orders soon. She started a tailoring unit at home, and during the lockdown, she worked for hours so that she would have enough money for her family.
Rekha joined our self–help group to begin saving money. She also became an office bearer, taking ownership for other women in her group. Rekha took the responsibility during the pandemic to gather her team members and collect money for savings, despite everyone having financial crises of their own.
“I have not taken any loans yet,” Rekha says, “As a group, we felt that some ladies needed money more. I wanted to take a loan for my expenses during the Diwali festival but one of our member’s husband had a heart attack and was hospitalised. So we all decided to let her take the loan. Many others have taken loans when they struggled with paying children’s school fees or for other sudden expenses.”
For Roopa, Rekha and the ladies in the self-help groups, they now know that they have a strong community that supports each other through their ups and downs – a much needed support system.
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