Junu Devi's story, for me, demonstrated the ripple effect that one small loan can have. This resident of Guwahati lives with her family in a small rented house. Her husband is a carpenter and earns very little to make a living. Junu’s 8-year-old son Sunil, attends school. As I was going to meeting Junu, this vivacious child came running to meet me.
With no preamble, he began with, "Do you know why cats say 'meow'?''
With a nervous laugh, I confessed, "No. Not really. Why?'
Which was clearly not the answer he wanted. He was disappointed. He expected the ones who helped his mother get a loan know at least this much. Standing at the door, a little puzzled Junu came to the rescue. She called out, “Bhitor aha baido!” Come inside, sister.
We greeted each other by folding hands into a ‘namastey’ and a warm smile.
Junu is a Milaap borrower who took a loan through YVU to start a business. Her husband’s meager income could not even cover their household expenses. Deciding to do something, Junu decided to work to support her family. Junu took the initiative to form a joint-liability group by involving her friends in the locality. This group of five women applied for a loan of Rs 85,000 to expand their respective business. Junu used her share (Rs 20,000) to buy beauty parlour products.
“I know that lack of education and unemployment are two sides of the same coin,” she said. So she decided to educate herself in a marketable skill. Junu's sister-in-law Shalini, who works in a beauty parlour taught her basic techniques like makeup, hair styling, threading, facial etc. This gave Junu the confidence to open her own beauty parlour. Today, Junu runs a small parlour at home. With her loan, she bought products like face cream, hair products, face packs, shampoo – conditioner, hair straightening machine and other necessary items. Junu uses a part of her income to cover the household expenses and manages to save the rest. She believes, “Saving money is not easy but securing the future is necessary”. Junu wants to educate her son without facing financial constraints.
“I have many customers in the locality but it is difficult to accommodate them at home. The plan for the future is to own a separate beauty parlor and name it after my mother,” she proudly said.
And how did Junu hear of Milaap and take the initiative to form a group to take a loan? Aliza Begum, another Milaap borrower, owns the parlour where Shalini works. I even met Aliza during a field visit. She took a loan from Milaap and made an excellent improvement in her life beginning her own venture. From door to door sales of beauty cosmetics, she now owns her own beauty parlor. Shalini, Junu’s sister in law assists Aliza. Well! This was the Milaap ripple effect.
I am glad I met her, because to me she validates the larger importance of one small loan taken by one person to make their life better. I asked Junu if she would pose for a picture and she readily agreed.