Saturday, August 18, 2012

A tale of two women

Annapurna is a weaver who hails from Gadag district in Karnataka. She is uneducated, yet she yearns to be self-sufficient and has been taking up various jobs to help support her family. I live in Gurgaon, Haryana, and my education has helped me secure a comfortable and satisfying job in the civil services. As a family, we are financially secure, and can fulfill all our dreams.

Annapurna and I live very different lives, thousands of kilometres removed from one another. Yet, our lives have touched, thanks to MILAAP ( Milaap is the first (and at present, the only) online platform that allows people around the world to lend to India's poor. It focuses on enterprise development, sustainable farming, education, energy, healthcare, sanitation and water. Its field partners identify the beneficiaries, one makes an online loan (the amount could be as small as Rs 500/-) which is disbursed via the field partner which also monitors its utilisation, re payment etc.

Having already made several loans via Milaap, and having experienced the satisfaction of re payments coming in ( the smallest re payment is Rs 40 per month!), I enthusiastically joined Milaap's "Adopt an Entrepreneur" campaign, launched ahead of India's 65th Independence Day. The idea was to "adopt" an entrpreneur and help raise the entire amount he/she needs to purchase raw materials/machinery etc. Empowering women is, I believe, crucial if this nation is to grow in an equitable, sustainable manner. So I decided to raise the Rs 35,000 that Annapurna needed, as part of a group that makes colourful weaves, for buying more machinery and raw material.

The journey proved to be surprisingly short and gratifying. 
I shared on Facebook the page  that Milaap created for me 
but more importantly, I specifically requested friends who I know have compassion and a highly developed social conscience to make a contribution. Within 48 hours, 4 or 5 large contributions (Rs 5000 to Rs 10,000) were made, apart from another 5 contributions of smaller amounts,and the loan was 100% financed! My hope now is that when all these generous lenders see the re payments coming in, they will choose to re lend the amount that gets re paid, and also share their experience with like minded people so that the circle grows wider. A big thank you to all of you!!!

Not only do I feel connected to Annapurna but I feel I am now a stakeholder in her progress -----thank you, Milaap, for bringing together two women from such vastly different backgrounds!

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