Ours is a person-to-person mission. We know which severely poor women in India receive our funds and what business enterprise each is developing to sustain her family. By January 2015, Prosperity Rings had made possible an estimated 22,213 loans to poor and vulnerable borrowers.
Loans are given to people who have no collateral, and only to women, who are the most marginalized and who tend to put their proceeds into the household and their children. The women must qualify for loans by standards of poverty that include inability to eke out ways to feed, clothe, house, educate children, access health care or hygiene. Many are indentured laborers (servants) — including children — for a pittance. In some communities we saw indentured children pounding rocks into gravel. Many work in the fields all day along with their parents.
Examples of businesses established include buying machines for bottling drinks, grinding spices, candle or sanitary napkin making, or tailoring; setting up beauty salons, photography, copy and computer centers; collecting fallen hair for wigs and extensions; collecting recyclables; coconut leaf weaving for thatch; tea or petty shoppes; bicycle repair; and rental of audio equipment or an auto rickshaw.
After they are trained by the on-site facilitating agencies, the women form groups that are accountable for each others’ loans. They receive their loans, establish their small enterprises, and start their weekly repayments with interest. We now encourage the borrowers to use part of their loan to pay for specialized training in creating products and/or services that will lead to more lucrative and sustainable enterprises.
The borrowers support each other, not only financially, but also in times of physical and emotional crisis and events. Many become leaders in their communities and bring about changes that benefit all the residents.
The disbursement of our funds and the collection of loans plus interest — to be recycled into more loans — is facilitated by way of SHWET and SRIA, current local partners we have carefully chosen. Loans vary in amount. Please see Program Highlights for stories of some of the many borrowers we have personally interviewed.
* Initial training includes the loan/repayment process, keeping records, good business practices, and how to write a viable business plan. Ongoing training in safe and healthy life skills and specific product/services training takes place as well.