I met Ngurengmawii Sailo and her fellow-members of the Chhawkhlei group of Milaap borrowers at a group member’s home. They live in the Luangmual area, an hour’s drive from the city center in Aizawl. Being away from the city, people in Luangmual have bigger houses, small kitchen gardens and enough space to rear chicken or pigs. These Chhawkhlei group members, who I visited, took a loan in March last year of Rs.20,000 each to start their own businesses, mostly in poultry and piggery, mostly. They were one of the first groups to have borrowed money when WSDS and Milaap together started dispersing loans in Mizoram. And now they have successfully completed their loan cycle.
The first thing I did when I met them was to congratulate them for completing their loan. Ngurengmawii, the group leader, then pointed out that it was easy because all the group members were earning good profits from their respective businesses, so it was easy to repay the installments. Also, she adds that they are all friends and would have helped each other if one of them was in trouble.
Ngurengmawii, is a single mother who utilized the loan to expand her poultry business. She added about 100 chickens, took care of their feed and constructed new sheds for them. Ngurengmawii wasn’t able to calculate her monthly profits, but happily adds that she was able to buy a new washing machine from the profits she earned. She works as a dispatcher in the Mizoram Secretariat and is proud of herself for starting the poultry unit as it adds considerably to her family income. Her son and daughter who study in 6th and 5th grade go to a local school in the Luangmual area.
All the group members are eager to take a second Milaap loan to expand their businesses. Ngurengmawii wants to add pigs to her farm, Lalhmunsangi wants to employ a person to take care of her poultry and piggery sheds, and Laldinthari wants to expand her garment business by investing in buying more material and selling it at different locations across the city. The past year has instilled in them a confidence with which they are eager to face challenges that come as their businesses grow.
Members of Chhawkhlei group pose inside a pig shed