Over 37 years we have impacted the lives of many families and individuals that have spanned across generations. Of the hundreds of thousands of life transformations that we have witnessed and played a part in, listed below is a handful of inspiring testimonials.
28 year old Shameem Begum, her husband Ismail and their three children belong to the Kothur community in Andhra Pradesh. Earlier, at the brink of starvation barely managing to make ends meet with a meager income of only Rs.900/- a month. However Shameem was not ready to accept her fate, she had taken a firm resolution to work as hard as required to better her family’s condition. Her first step was to join the local Self Help Group. Then when The Bridge Foundation was introduced in her area, she applied for a loan. With the Rs.5000/- sanctioned, she was able to start a small tea shop which also served snacks.
It may have been only a small business venture, but Shameem Begum had ventured into uncharted territory. Not only was her tea shop the first in the community, it was actually run by a woman in a traditional rural Muslim society, where the so called weaker sex is expected to stay at home, cook and look after the children. Fortunately, her husband Ismail gave her his full support, witnessing the economic transformation and improvement of his family’s fortune that was happening right in front of his eyes. The tea shop was bringing in an income averaging Rs.125/- a day, about Rs.4000/-per month. They have a helper who delivers tea down the street, whom they pay Rs.30/- every day; creating employment not just for themselves but for others too.
Shameem Begum has now become a source of inspiration for other women in her community. She has been elected president of her Self Help Group. Her three children go to a private school in the school van, properly dressed and groomed, getting an education that will help them find a better future. The sceptics in her tradition bound society admire her success and marvel at her guts and tenacity. In the words of the TBF project officer, “She is always bubbling with enthusiasm and full of confidence. Shameem Begum is an example of what empowerment does to women.”
Rukmani and her husband Narasimha Shetty migrated to Bengaluru from Gulbarga, north Karnataka, in search of livelihood. They also had three daughters to look after. The family managed to find a place to stay in the slum areas of Lingarajapuram. However, employment opportunities were scarce for unskilled labor and work was hard to find so they decided to start a small business of selling snacks, borrowing money from the local moneylender. After paying the high interest that the moneylender charged there wasn’t enough money left to make ends meet or even feed her family properly. She was fortunate to come in contact with TBF through her Self Help Group. She was relieved to access credit close at hand at a reasonable rate of interest. She availed a loan of Rs.10,000/- which enabled her to expand and grow her business. Her income increased from Rs.45/- to Rs.125/- per day. The whole family is very happy as the financial assistance has not only helped them lead a decent life, but has also given them a sense of dignity and enhanced their self worth.
Penchalamma and her husband Penchallaiah lived with their four children in Channareddipalli village on the outskirts of Nellore city in Andhra Pradesh. She had been working as a daily wager at wood charcoal making units for many years and had learnt the process of how firewood is carefully heated and treated in kilns producing the finished product. Imbued with the entrepreneurial spirit she wanted to set up her own charcoal making unit from locally available wood using her painstakingly acquired experience.She did not wish to be a casual laborer forever, barely surviving on minimum wages. She had a growing family to take care of. She was determined to take charge of her life and improve her lot.
As a member of her local Self Help Group, promoted by the Nellore Social Service Society, she applied for a loan when TBF was assisting SHG members in the area to take up micro enterprise activity. She was the sanctioned a loan of Rs.6000/- towards working capital. Finally, the proud owner of her own charcoal making unit, she has been successful in her enterprise and earns about Rs.2,000/- per month for which she is happy and thankful.
Petchiammal and her husband Pitchai ran a small eatery in Therkutheru village near Melur town in Tamil Nadu. In spite of working tirelessly through the day they could only earn about Rs.1500/- per month, which was barely enough to survive for the family with three children. They definitely needed a better source of income.Determination and a willingness to work hard were characteristic traits of the family. Their eldest daughter picked up the skill of wire bag making and she realized that they could capitalize on it to earn a decent living. Soon she taught her entire family how to make wire bags and their little business enterprise took off.
With a loan from The Bridge Foundation they were able to buy raw materials at wholesale prices and keep a better profit margin. Initially Petchiammal’s family produced only two bags a day, selling them at Rs.70/- each. Soon the demand grew due to the superior quality of their product, shopkeepers placed orders and they had to work day and night to supply the required number of bags. They made and sold, on an average, about 15 bags every week. They repaid their earlier loan and took a fresh one, trained three girls from three other families creating jobs in the community.Their income now touches Rs.5000/- per month. Perchchiammal’s grown up children are learning to read and write by attending the adult education training program. The family knows what it means to work together and achieve their dreams.
“God gives vision – The Bridge Foundation fulfills dreams”, says 35 year old Sita Behera from Bhusandapur village, near Chilika lake in Odisha. She should know; she had the vision to leave behind the life of an impoverished agricultural labourer with occasional work to become a successful business woman with assistance from her Self Help Group and TBF.
Living in a lakeside fishing community, she knew there was a constant demand for well made fishing nets. Borrowing only Rs.1000/- from her local Self Help Group she started on her own. Meanwhile TBF influence was growing in the Bhusandapur area. Sita applied for a loan and was sanctioned Rs.4000/- as working capital. She spent Rs. 1000/- on raw materials, employed three women to assist her in the task. The four women laboured for 15 days and produced one big net, which was specifically required for deep-sea fishing with trawlers. Sita sold this net for Rs 12,000/-. She paid a wage of Rs.1000/- to each of her helpers.
Her net profit at the end of the 15 day period was Rs 8000/-. Before long she availed another loan, this time for Rs.10,000/-, which she used along with part of the profit she had made earlier to invest in a fishing net manufacturing unit. Smaller fishing nets were also in demand as they could be used inside Chilika lake, where the government had given permission for fishing. Her unit produces around 8 to 10 nets a month and Sita earns a healthy profit. In her own words – ” My children continue their studies in English medium schools. We have bought a small deep freezer which is hired out to other fishermen, who need to store their catch, until it is collected for sale in the nearby town.” She now has two sources of income thanks to The Bridge Foundation.
“I am a talented woman, who makes tasty dosas”, is how Hussainbee introduces herself. With a family of five, that is five hungry mouths to feed, she had to find a way to survive. She decided to set up a small eatery and tea-stall, but had no money to start her business. Like many others in need, she went to the local moneylender, pawned whatever lite jewellery she had and took a loan of Rs.6000/- at an exorbitant annual interest rate of 36%! She worked hard, her tasty food was popular and her eatery did well, but all the profits went into the moneylender’s pocket. She was only able to pay the interest, whereas the principal amount that she had borrowed she could not repay and her loan liability remained the same. She was caught in a vicious cycle from which she desperately needed to break free.
Hussainbee was fortunate to meet representatives of The Bridge Foundation who explained to her the benefits of micro financing. She applied for a loan. TBF recognized her entrepreneurial spirit and sanctioned her a loan of Rs.6,000/-. She bought an electric wet grinder with the money. The machine helped her grind her dosa batter and the chutneys. She saved time and the quality of her dosas was even better than before while she was able to maintain the same cost, resulting in higher sales. In fact, her income from dosas doubled from Rs.30/- to Rs.60/-per day. On top of this, she used the grinder to make the dosa batter for all the household cooks in the vicinity, charging a nominal price for the service, earning Rs.40/- daily. One machine with double income! With monthly earnings of Rs.3000/-, Hussainbee’s family does not go hungry anymore. She has renovated her home and created space with eight tables and chairs to serve her customers. She makes her dosas on a new kerosene stove. Hussainbee and her little eatery are set to progress further.
Redamma and her husband were residents of one of the silk villages in Karnataka,Chennahalli. These villages were famous for the productivity of silk from mulberry. Her husband earned a montly income of Rs 600 which was insufficient to meet their basic needs.
Depending on her enterpreneurial spirit, she approached the Bridge Foundation and applied for a loan of Rs 6000. When her loan was granted, she invested in buying Chandrankis. She then hired out these Chandranks at Rs 8 per unit on an hourly basis to ensure maximum utilization. In this way all the 50 Chandrankis were utilised throughout the month. Through this rental income, she earned an average of Rs 2400 per month, which added to the income of her husband.
With this income boost, she was able to educate her son who stood first among his peers in the tenth grade. She was also pursuing the Vidya Yojana insurance policy that would enable her to pay for her sons education and eventually educate him to become doctor.
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