Happy Mother’s Day!
My friend Kayoko Mitsumatsu has been working tirelessly since 2007 to mobilize the yoga community to help empower women in India to lead more sustainable lives and reduce poverty through providing micro-loans, through a non-profit called Yoga Gives Back.
YGB’s direct funding program, “Sister Aid,” is currently funding programs for 237 mothers and children in India, providing micro loans and education funds. In West Bengal, 109 mothers have been lent microloans to start their own businesses. 110 daughters are able to remain in school through education funds.
In 2010, YGB first funded microloans for this group of 22 mothers in Tripuranagar village. Three years later, their average income has risen 600%, from 135 to 815 rupees per month. Women are making a profit through various businesses ventures, including: making mud ornaments, basket making, saree trading, opening tea shops, raising chickens and goats and farming. The group’s experience has set a great precedent for eight more groups to follow.
Below are just a few examples of these mothers’ proud accomplishments:
Trade: Paper Bag Making
Notable Accomplishment(s): Opened an individual bank account and was able to obtain computer literacy training for her oldest daughter. Thanks to her new business ventures and skills, Anjali is empowered to speak up in family matters.
Trade: Raising cows
Notable Accomplishment(s): Successfully constructed a toilet using her own money, in addition to the saving for future.
Trade: Ornament sales
Notable Accomplishments: Takes all responsibilities for the family, as husband’s contribution does not exist.
Trade: Clothing sales
Notable Accomplishments: Is now able to pay for her daughter’s medical care to treat a liver infection.
Like any mother, Rita’s dream is to provide her two daughters with a solid education so that they will have a better chance at a successful future. However, a few years ago, Rita did not have enough money to send her daughters to school. In an effort to earn a better living and become financially self-sufficient, she took out her first microloan to start her own business. Rita decided to buy sarees in the Kolkotta market to resell them in her village for a profit. Her income skyrocketed from 50 ruppees per month to 500 per month. She has opened a personal bank account to track and maintain total control over her earnings. Rita has not only made enough money to send her daughters to school, but she can also afford a tutor to help them maintain their grades. Recognizing her success, Rita’s husband now helps support the business, carrying sarees from Kolkotta to their village for her to sell.
“I could not do anything in my life as I was a victim of child marriage,” said Rita. “My parents did not know the importance of education and ill-effects of child marriage. I will do everything I can to enable my daughters to earn their own livelihood and become self-sufficient.”
Please consider a mother’s day gift – it will be well spent.