According to the World Bank, India is home to almost one third of the world’s poor (living on an equivalent of less than two dollars a day). Though, many central and state government poverty alleviation programs are active in India, microfinance is critical to financial inclusion at the grass root level. Over the past few decades it has helped reduce poverty, as recipients of microfinance have been able to develop a sustained source of income, thereby, better the standard of living.
Microfinance involves extending small loans, savings and other basic financial services to people that don’t have access to capital. It is the key to helping people living in poverty become financially independent, enabling them to provide for their families and become productive members of society over a period of time.
Lions in India partnered with ASA International to provide microfinance loans to women whose families are in need. The goal is to help these women start their own businesses, so they can lift themselves and their families out of poverty, thus, impacting lives and helping women in India follow their dreams. Barry Palmer, Chairman, LCIF now extended this program to Rajarhat, West Bengal.
Lions work with ASA to identify communities and qualified applicants for the program. A detailed survey of their needs and business requirements is undertaken, after which Lions provide assistance in terms of business planning and marketing advice. Recipients are divided into small self-help groups, which ensure support and compliance. Thereby, offering a group guarantee of the loan.
According to Lion Neville Mehta, International Secretary, ISAAME, “Lions Clubs, firmly believes that the key benefit of microfinance far outweigh the efforts and is the only way to ensure financial assistance at the grass root level. Lions clubs are committed to providing support to women in need in order to ensure economic independence and social integration”.