The Leprosy Mission works to eradicate extreme poverty and hunger through self-help groups, which are provided with seed money and training.
This men’s self-help group near Naini, India, has been together for five years. The 10 members meet on the fifth of every month.
Three members are affected by leprosy and the others are classed as below the poverty line. The group has bought items to rent out, including a lamp, large containers for cooking and water containers, for people to use in special events, such as weddings or other functions.
Suryabans, a member affected by leprosy, says, ‘In a meeting, whoever needs money asks, we take accounting of the business, talk about how to increase our work and what to do to earn more money.’
The leader of the group, Jairam, says, ‘We used to charge 2% interest, but we decided that was too high, so we reduced it to 1% per month. I keep records of utensils rented – after the marriage season; I take the accounts to the group.’
Before the self-help group was established, the men went to money lenders who charged 5%. Now when they take a loan from the group they pay interest back to the group and into their own joint savings.
Kesawai, who took a loan for his daughter’s marriage, says, ‘If I had not been able to take the loan I would have had to ask from another person and pay 5% or 10% interest or I’d have had to sell my field.’
The men also have plans on how to increase their profits. Jairam says, ‘We want to have a type of cinema which could be used in marriage functions. If we have that business we’ll get 2,000 rupees per show; it will cost around one lakh rupees [100,000 Rs]. We need at least two years to save one lakh.’
Find out more about how The Leprosy Mission is working towards the MDGs.