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Big dreams through small loans: Case study of Meena

Looking at Meena (in picture) one would find it difficult to believe that she has been through such difficult time at such a young age because her vibrant smile camouflages it all. She is only 28 years old and a mother of two. Hailing from a well to do family she entered a debt ridden joint family of her in laws after marriage, with an alcoholic brother in law who lost most of the family assets in his business efforts very soon she left with no choice but to took up the role of an earning member.

The process to choose an enterprise was difficult because not many options were available to her. She was helped by the Field Executive of Planned Social Concern (PSC), a local MFI, to decide what she can do best and how a small loan can help her. The initial reactions of the family members and the neighbours were apprehensive and refusal. However Meena was convinced that she can no longer lead poverty ridden life and stood by her decision to take financial help from PSC. She became the first group leader in Bichoon village and took a loan of $200. She started doing the embroidery work/Kaseedah in her house. She invested loan amount to deposit security money for receiving cloths for embroidery from a middle man associated with a export house in Jaipur. Middle man used to charge heavy commission for their work and there was very left for her hard work. However, new system was laid out soon when Meena and the other women realised that the market value of their work wasn’t being compensated enough and they along with their husbands worked on creating direct linkages with the export houses. Removal of commission agents helped women in the group to earn anything $25-$50 per embodied saari.

Meena is currently on her third business cycle of $350 through which she is expanding her business. She works hard and her efforts are reaping benefits now since she has been able to construct another room in her house and also her children go to regular schools. Her dream now is to provide her children with an opportunity of letting them become what they desire.

Her family is now very supportive of her work and also help her with it. She is the first group leader of the village and her confidence is contagious.

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