It took me around 3 hours of a tedious journey to reach Hallur, in rural Karnataka. But when I finally met with Sharda, like my other field trips, all the exhaustion was forgotten, as I got engrossed in a conversation with her. Sharda not only told me about her business, she also took me on a village tour and introduced me to all the other Milaap borrowers in her village.
It’s been eleven months since she availed the loan from Milaap through MASS (our field partner in the Belgaum district of Karnataka). Sharda owns a small Kirana (grocery) shop for the past 10 years. But she had to close her shop and start working as an agricultural laborer a few years ago. She didn't have enough funds, and couldn't keep up with local market demands. As a result, as stocks dwindled in her shop, so did her earnings. But with her son finally married and contributing a steady income to the household, Sharda decided that it was time to get out of the seasonal labor and rekindle her business. With the loan amount of Rs. 20,000, Sharda bought items such as snacks, soap, tea, mouth-fresheners, etc. Soon enough, her efforts started paying off, and now, she earns an income of Rs. 500 to Rs. 600 on a daily basis. Business is even better when the village comes alive during festival and marriage seasons.
With more than half of her loan already repaid, Sharda seemed really happy and optimistic. She is looking forward to investing some of her savings to expand the product variety in her shop once the loan is completely repaid.
Sharda at her Kirana shop