Binoo Joshi | 10 Sep, 2012
Microfinance is empowering women, especially the poor and widows, in Jammu and Kashmir, thanks to NGO Kashmir Women's Credit Cooperative Ltd (KWCCL) that is providing loans to the needy to set up self-employment ventures like weaving and embroidery units, beauty parlours and boutiques. It is also giving loans for children's education.
"Needy women desirous of starting their business have just to give photographs, a witness and an affidavit for getting a loan ranging from Rs.10,000 to Rs.30,000," KWCCL chairperson Nighat Pandit said.
Microfinance is the provision of financial services such as loans, savings, insurance and training to people below the poverty line and those who are outside the formal financial system. It is considered as a just and sustainable solution in alleviating poverty and one of the success stories in the developing world.
Micro-lenders issue small loans to borrowers, typically women. The loans are usually repaid in installments. Women, widely seen as more responsible than men at handling debts, receive around 95 percent of micro-loans in India.
"The beauty is that women are taking loans and are repaying regularly while they are earning," said Pandit.
The corpus of the Srinagar-based KWCCL is made up of fees collected from its over 1,600 members. The loans are given at the Reserve Bank of India approved interest rate of 11.25 percent.
Raja Tabardar, one of the eldest beneficiaries, took a loan of Rs.25,000 at the age of 60. A widow and mother of four daughters, she has set up a unit for manufacturing heater coils and earnings over Rs.5,000 per month after repaying the installment of Rs.1,000.
"I do not have words to express gratitude to them (KWCCL) as they made me earn and live a life with dignity," she said.
Sakeena Bano, 24, took loan of Rs.15,000 to set up an embroidery unit. "I was unemployed. Now, besides earning for myself, I have given employment to 10 others in my unit," said Sakeena.
Shafika Bano too has benefitted from this scheme. She took a loan of Rs.15,000 to set up nine spinning wheels to weave silk. "I am earning about Rs.5,000 per month after paying the installment of the loan and salaries to employees."
KWCCL wants to help more women set up businesses. "Our aim is to make needy women of Kashmir economically sound and independent. Economic empowerment leads to empowerment of minds," said Pandit.