Sector: Self Help Group
Shrimati Shrishta Devi of Bharmar had the knowledge and skills to bring herself out of poverty, but she did not have the capital. She had learned how to sew at a young age from her parents at home. With what she could make on her sewing machine, Shrishta Devi was just barely able to provide for her three children and meet household expenses. Earning 100-200 rupees each month, Shrishta Devi could barely afford the raw materials for her livelihood. Without these raw materials, it was impossible for her to sew and sell products
Seeing the many opportunities that CORD’s Self Help Groups (SHG) provided, Shrishta Devi knew this was her only chance to solve her financial problems. The SHG in her community, called Chinmaya Bagala Mukti, consisted of women who gave 20 rupees of their savings each month into a joint account. With the leadership of a president and a secretary, the women managed the money and took loans as necessary. These SHG, a form of micro banking, allowed the women to access credit. Many times the poor are considered to be ‘unbankable’ because of their lack of collateral. They are unable to receive loans from traditional banks which keep them from accessing the money they need to start a business or make large purchases. They are forced to live day to day, and can only meet their daily expenses. Savings were unheard until these groups were introduced to the poor.
With access to credit, Shrishta Devi felt empowered to expand her small sewing business. She decided to specialize in making bags and took a loan from the group to buy raw materials. Although she was nervous about taking the loan, she had the support of her fellow group members. Shrishta Devi did not feel overwhelmed by the process or the interest she would have to pay on her loan. She increased her work significantly over the next couple of months.
Although Shrishta Devi had the sewing skills to make bags, she wanted to enhance her skills. She knew that by improving the quality of her products she could increase her reach in the market. She was introduced to the trainings and joined a one month sewing training led by Santosh Rana at CORD.
Shrishta Devi took her training very seriously and gave it her all. Before, sewing was a means of survival for Shrishta Devi, but with training and a new found confidence she began to think about how to be creative and expand her business. Through a loan from her SHG she bought a new sewing machine for 5000 rupees. Shrishta Devi noticed a need for school bags, and started to experiment. Soon, she was making 150-170 top-quality school bags each month. Schools began to her approach her with orders for school bags.
With the SHG loans, Shrishta Devi was able to drastically improve her economic condition. She increased her income to 4000-5000 rupees per month and now puts in 100 rupees a month to her SHG. This new entrepreneur has not only changed her own life, but the lives of her children as well. Shrishta Devi constructed a new home and is able to pay for the marriages of her children. As a result of her membership in a SHG, Shrishta Devi became empowered and confident in her skills. Although she appears simple on the outside, her mind runs like a professional business woman. Never in her life did she think she was capable of being financially literate to run her own business.