Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Jenlu and the Morning Star Group

An early bird catches a worm and these eight tribal women rise at the break of the dawn to do their household chores and carry on their businesses. They call themselves Morning Star Group. 

The village where they live is 35 km (22 miles) from the main capital town of the northeast Indian state of Manipur. Manipur's people include several different tribal groups who speak languages in the Tibeto-Burman family.

Jenlu, who is raising her hand in the picture, is the member who is profiled, but all members of the group share an equal amount of the KIVA loan, which comes to a little less than $250.00 US dollars each. They work together to encourage one another to keep their part of the repayment of the loan current. Should one fall behind the others make up the shortfall temporarily until the partner can regain her financial footing. 

Jenlu's house is located on one of the main lanes in the village. Previously Jenlu was a farm labourer but it is very hard work for a woman with a family to care for, so recently she opened a small grocery shop in the front of her house, facing the lane. In the morning farmers drop into the shop to purchase snacks to take with them to their fields. She also sells essential and everyday household goods like cereal grains, rice, cooking oil, cleaning supplies for the home and personal products like soap, toothpaste and shampoo. The village has very few shops and Jenlu is determined to run her business successfully.

Her husband is a farm labourer who works in the fields cultivating seasonal crops. While her husband is working in the field, Jenlu manages the shop and does her household chores, cleaning the house, cooking meals for the family and sending the children to school.

With the help of this KIVA loan, she will purchase more supplies wholesale for the grocery shop. She plans to purchase several large bags of rice, a large container of cooking oil, and other essential goods in large quantities which she can then sell in smaller amounts at retail prices for increased profit. She plans to expand the shop to the point where it can provide the family's entire income.

Looking to the future she knows working as a farm labourer will become too difficult for her husband as he ages and therefore, she is keen to make the shop as successful as it can be. She is happy and motivated to work with KIVA and wishes to continue working with the organization. She says, “Thank you so much KIVA”.

The other members of Morning Star Group are engaged in similar small businesses. Some raise animals, one weaves cloth, some farm and another has a small food business.  The KIVA partner WSDS-Initiative is an inclusive nonprofit that works with women across all tribes and minority communities in Manipur, located in the remote northeast region of India. Most organizations concentrate their work in the plains region of Manipur, but WSDS is among the very few organizations serving women in the isolated hills.

Political unrest and frequent economic blockades in the area make it very difficult to provide services, resulting in Manipur having the lowest penetration of financial services in the country.  Combine this with India's restrictive laws on loans from outside the country, and the women in this region have almost no access to the capital they so desperately need to expand their businesses. ALL it takes is $25.00 to give a woman like Jenlu and her family the chance to lead a life free from grinding poverty and deprivation. And the best thing is, you get your money back, it's not a hand-out but a hand-up. Become a KIVA lender today.


Linda P. said...

It will soon be time for another KIVA loan for me, too. I don't have much to donate, but I have begun the tradition of asking my grandchildren help me make the decision. I hope to start them thinking about the lives of other people and how they might contribute to helping others achieve their dreams, too.

Deb said...

Hi Linda,
I'm so glad to hear you're loaning with KIVA! We don't have a lot to loan either, but many months we only need to top up our loans by $5.00 or $6.00 because loans are being paid back all the time and we have credit. In five years we have loaned a total of $359.

But we have reloaned all the money as it's paid back and in total our loans have totaled $1550.00. So our $359 has worked pretty hard. :D