Society also promotes social awareness among its women
Dominance of money-lenders and micro finance institutions has come to an end in many villages of Vajrapukotturu mandal of Srikakulam district, thanks to the collective efforts of women who could become self-reliant financially with their own planning and hard work.
Money-lenders used to collect up to 5% interest per month from women who were forced to borrow money for their petty business activities such as running a tailoring shop, sale of coconuts or investment on agriculture. They used to pay ₹800 to ₹1,000 as interest per month if they were given ₹20,000 loan.
As many as 6,120 women became members of the Swashakthi Mutually-aided Cooperative Society and were able to create ₹80 lakh fund on their own. The society gives soft loans at nominal interest rates for income generation activities. The maximum interest rate is 12% per annum and a concession is given if loans are taken for three and six months. The interest is hardly ₹200 per month if ₹20,000 loan is taken from the society. The loan facility is extended only to group members.
Moved by the pathetic situation of women of interior villages, the Bapuji Rural Enlightenment and Development Society (BREDS) has helped them form small self-help groups in 1995 itself, says its chief executive officer A. Ramakrishna Raju.
The self-employment training programmes, government schemes of the District Rural Development Agency (DRDA) and the National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD) were explained to the distressed women, who then established the Swashakti organisation.
“Swashakthi is going to be the biggest women’s organisation in Andhra Pradesh with 10,000 members within a couple of years,” Mr. Raju tells The Hindu.
The society president Akku Dhana Lakshmi and secretary K. Saraswathi say that financial independence helped the women members lead a comfortable life even during the COVID-19 crisis. “Every member is encouraged to involve in society administrative activities also. It develops leadership qualities among them,” says Mrs. Dhana Lakshmi.
The society members are also involved in social awareness programmes. They have to get their children married only after completion of intermediate education. They are aware of the Domestic Violence Act, consumer rights and other laws. “The society members serve as an inspiration to many others in Palasa, Mandasa and other mandals,” says BREDS secretary V. Sambamurty.
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