-penned by Alo, board member

(….) “You take my life,

When you do take the means whereby I live”

Merchant of Venice

There is a need, there always is a need, a pressing one to borrow money and a completely unfounded hope garbed in confidence that it will be paid back. Meanwhile interest accumulates and the pressure to pay it off looms large even as rents, bills and expenses have to be made every month.  This cycle is called a trap for good reason, such is its vice grip that one lives from loan to repayment to loan again. This situation evidently blunts all attempts to upgrade a lifestyle or expand a business.

Rani and Chandru are caring parents to their loving children. Both their children are sponsored under Sharana’s Back to school programme. Both study hard and have got good results in their respective exams. Their parents work hard in honest labour, they work close to 12 hours a day and and run an ironing shop opposite a local school. From their daily income, which can range from 200 to 500 rupees a day they need to pay back to their creditors anything to the tune of 50 to 100 rupees a day.  The current shop is small and even if Rani and her mother can iron too, buying new ironing boxes would imply a new debt.

To expand or not, to take a new loan or not, will this mean yet another trap or not, these were some of the questions Chandru and Rani were asking themselves when they were picked as candidates for Sharana’s Women’s Entrepreneurship Programme.  Their business plan was the immediate expansion of their business, by buying new ironing boxes and creating space in their house for a new shop. Thus, instead of essentially Chandru doing the bulk of the ironing, today; Chandru, Rani and her Mother iron, and when they have a heavy load to finish, they pay a friend on a need basis. In the past few months the expanded business has enabled them to be debt free from the pervious crippling loans. The family now is on a threshold of expansion and consistent increased income.  In due course they expect to hire a new hand on a permanent basis as they expect their incomes to greatly ease their lifestyle.

When they had a plan, a vision for their future, a desire to work hard to earn more it was the nature of the loan from Sharana that worked as an incentive for taking the plunge and making the necessary investments. The very same situation and the prospect of more loans from the informal exploitative sector would have implied either another debt cycle or the abandoning of a better future for their children.


-Sharana has changed the name of the Women in the above account as well as omitted some personal details to protect the identity of the family