Babli Bai Gameti is an equal stakeholder in her large family’s future and juggles multiple livelihoods to meet its growing needs. Enterprising and progressive, Babli Bai aspires to educate her four children, secure their prospects and build savings to tide over any future financial contingency, or health shock. A member of the saving group, Babli Bai has successfully utilized her savings of Rs.10,000 and RSSA’s loans to carry out a much needed renovation of their house.
Babli Bai (30), a resident of Vani village lived in a Kucchha two room house with her family of eight – parents-in-law, husband (Parta Ram), and 4 children between the ages of 10 and 18 years. Till mid 2012, they also shared the same small house with Parta Ram’s brother and his family of 4. Co-supporting such a large, joint family of 12 and just ensuring smooth household cash flows was no mean task; Remarkably, given their difficult situation, Babli Bai and Parta Ram chose to invest in the education of their children and admitted them to a private school in the village; the oldest daughter who is in Class 12th at the Government School in Gogunda is one of the few girls in the village to have completed high school. The couple is compelled to engage in multiple livelihoods to make ends meet. Babli Bai’s husband works as a semi-skilled help in the catering business in Idar, Gujarat for 3-4 months as well as semi-skilled masonry jobs in Udaipur for 5 months. Meanwhile Babli Bai works under the NREGA scheme or on agricultural land during harvest season.
In spite of having a plethora of income sources, Babli Bai and her husband over the years had not been able to build substantial savings and were simply making do with what was at their disposal. In 2011 Babli Bai joined RSSA’s Gullak Bachat programme with 9 other members from her village. "We wanted to save and we felt this would be a great way to save, that’s why I joined the group" Babli Bai regularly saves small amounts ranging from Rs 10 to 100 in her Gullak. After paying the RSSA monthly instalment, and keeping a small sum of Rs 500–Rs 1000 aside for an emergency, she deposits an impressive Rs 2000 -4000 every year in her Savings bank account. Further, benefits and details of RSSA’s pension scheme are shared, goal setting for better financial planning is taught and the ‘paison ka ped’ activity is also demonstrated. "One day Madam put up a ‘tree of money’ – from the entire activity I learnt that if one woman saves in a bank she will gain interest on it, however, if another woman saves at home, then those savings will most likely get used up for unnecessary expenses. The first woman is better as she can avoid these unnecessary expenses"
A 2nd cycle loanee, Babli Bai has utilized both her loan amounts of Rs.5000 and Rs.10, 000 towards the construction of her house. Babli Bai has built a strong discipline towards timely repayment of loans. "Gullak has really helped set aside money for loan repayments – earlier we used to spend all the money then used to think about repaying dues. Now we just save in the Gullak" . The entire joint family of twelve members used to live together in a two room ‘kachha makaan’. The family’s quality of life has vastly improved as the new house is twice the size and comprises of 3 rooms and a kitchen and was completed in end 2012. "Earlier the kids could never concentrate and study because 12 members used to live in a two room house"
Babli Bai has forged strong bonds with other samuh/ community members; RSSA has provided a platform where they can spend time together and learn from each other’s experiences. Babli Bai’s standing in the community has gone up and she sometimes also extends help to others in need. Babli Bai’s aspirations are simple; she now looks forward to cementing the ‘rasoi’ (kitchen) like the rest of the house and install a tube well as their current source of water is shared by many households. This would improve the yield from farming and help her family to avoid purchasing water from the market. "After saving now for the construction of our house, we will save for our children and their future security"
Kavari Bai, now 23 years old, never had the chance to go to school. While her husband has been travelling to Udaipur to work in construction for the past seven years, she stays back in the village as a housewife. When she was getting her Voter ID card made, the officer responsible for record making sat at a distance and happened to hear her name incorrectly. Just like that she was now Thavari, but she would only find out when her Voter ID card arrived with the right picture and address but the wrong name. She didn't know how to have the record corrected, going on to have her Aadhar made with the wrong name as well: it was either the wrong Aadhar card or no Aadhar card. This went on to mean her name was incorrect on her job card and her ration card as well. She saw no way out, until her situation was identified at one of our digital and financial literacy camps supported by Angel One. She was helped in having the name on her Aadhar card corrected, and now has her name back!
Nirbhay Lal Gameti (32)is not afraid of change. Working as a mason, skilled in marble fitting in Bangalore to starting his very own automobile repair shop, and then moving back to Bangalore for still higher returns, he has experienced it all!
Having realized the benefits of saving regularly through a bank account, Nirbhay Lal has succeeded in upping his savings by a whopping 100% and secured the financial health of his family. RSSA has been instrumental in providing easy loans and sound financial advice to Nirbhay Lal as and when required.
Nirbhay Lal, a resident of Undithal, Chhali, provides for his family of seven (parents, wife, three sons aged 9, 7 and 3 and himself) primarily by being a long distant migrant to Bangalore where, as a skilled mason, he is involved in the work of marble fitting. After completing his studies till the 5th grade, he dropped out of school and migrated to Udaipur after which he moved to Bangalore for work. Due to a sudden emergency at home however, Nirbhay moved back to his village and decided to set up an automobile repair shop near his village. He needed seed capital for this venture.
Nirbhay lal availed 3 loans from RSSA to set up his automobile store, manage his cash flows during the untimely death of his elder brother and manage episodes of ill health. Prior to RSSA’s presence, when in need of credit the family used to approach a local moneylender who provided loans at a flat interest rate of 5% per month along with a ‘kasar’(processing fee) of 10%, with mandatory collateral such as jewellery. As the local business began to do reasonably well, Nirbhay lal decided to migrate back to Bangalore and hired a young man to manage the business in his absence. With the help of an Aajeevika Bureau migrant ID card, RSSA helped him open a bank account as well, which he uses to remit money regularly. Nirbhay's family was also assisted with an emergency loan during his family's ill health when he was away in Bangalore.
"The loans have always helped us in times of crisis and we never had to beg for them – application and processing has been open and speedy, thus saving us from agony and anxiety"
As a result of financial literacy sessions, Nirbhay decided to avail insurance and sign up for the Swavalamban old age pension scheme for unorganised sector workers. "We now know how to save and why to save –our family has seen a drastic rise in savings from approximately Rs.3000 three years back to Rs.6000 now. This is so, not just because of the rise in our income but because we realize the need for savings. And this is not just me, it is my entire family"
Nirbhay Lal aspires to enrol his sons in a private school and build himself and his family a ‘pakka makkan’. However closest to his heart is the desire to level his agricultural land and ensure better food availability for his family. He hopes that RSSA’s loans and sound financial advice would be available to fulfil these aspirations.
Will we let them drown?
When members from their group loan began frequenting their house and demanding payments, Mangi Lal started leaving for work earlier than usual and coming back home later than usual. His wife would go to the fields earlier than usual and would try and stay there for as long as she could. Eventually, she left with their two unmarried daughters for her maternal home. Then, loan officers and group members also started arriving at his place of work. His inability to escape debt collectors at work as well led him to stop going to work. Unable to go home or to work, he had nowhere to go. Mangi Lal now cannot be located, not even by his own brother. We also don’t know if he is close to harming himself, like many do in situations like his.
Today, the family has 5 active loans from microfinance companies that generate monthly installments of 13,799 rupees, owes 72,000 rupees at 5 percent interest from informal sources and has mortgaged 1.5 kg of silver. In the journey to this position, multiple occasions arose to assess the utilization of the family’s funds, to consider if this was an example of over lending and to flesh out the ethics of lending to the family. And somehow, the family is where it is. While it remains severely important to question the steps that got them here, it is also severely important to find ways to intervene and to change the course of stories like Mangi Lal’s while there still is room to make amends. Right now, there still is room to prevent an extreme outcome. But what is to be done for the family at this stage? And who is going to do it?
(picture is for representative purposes)
Copyright 2014. Shram Sarathi. All Rights Reserved.