Financial independence through microfinance

In his early childhood, Anand Kumar, along with his parents and four siblings, used to live with his grandfather. His entire family was dependent on the paltry income of his grandfather. Unable to bear the responsibilities of his son, the old man asked him to leave along with his wife and children and fend for himself. The family had a place to live but no income. Anand and his siblings were too young to earn and his father being unemployed, didn’t have any source of income.

Anand’s father started to sell ‘Shakun Bread’ packets near ‘Chitkohra Bridge’ close to their place of residence. Anand, with his heartrending voice says that, he and his family can’t forget the day, when they just had ‘washed out rice with onion’ and slept. His mother didn’t make it and died early.

Gradually, he and his siblings grew up. To supplement the family income which was very low, he started selling envelopes on the road side and in medicine stores. Through the small savings which he could make from his meager earnings, he studied and cleared his matriculation (10th/Boards).

His eagerness and determination to study further made him do seasonal sale of items such as Rakhi, Greeting Cards,Coconuts, flags etc. on the road side. He subsequently managed to complete his Intermediate Course (+2). In spite of his disability, Anand demonstrated a high level of grit, determination and ‘a never say die’ attitude. He always felt responsible towards his family and especially for his younger siblings. He studied as much as he could and also managed to do household chores.

Having completed his basic education, Anand had entrepreneurial ambitions as he visualized this to be the only way forward to secure a decent living for his large family. He could sense a lot of potential in foot wear business in his locality and wanted to venture into it, but due to the lack of resources his dream could not take shape. He did contact the local money
lenders but the exorbitant rates (100% per annum) charged by them proved to be a major deterrent. He could not visualize a sustainable business which required to be funded at such extraordinarily high rates. Anand realized that the rates on which the funds were available from the money lenders were suicidal and exploitative.

No matter how much he tried, he could not raise the minimum capital to start his small business. Anand started feeling stuck and defeated. He realized that selling envelopes and small time seasonal items could not take him far in life.

It was at this point in his life when he had practically given up all hopes of starting a viable and sustainable business that his friends advised him to join a group which had been formed of likeminded people in the area. The group would save and deposit money on a weekly/monthly basis and withdraw when required. He joined the committee and was able to arrange some fund from there which helped him start his footwear business on a very small scale. This was in the year 2008.

Beginning of the Journey with Saija

However, though a beginning had been made, growth and sustainability still seemed distant and farfetched. It was in the year 2009 that he came to know about Saija through Ajay, one of his neighbors. Anand suddenly saw a glimmer of hope and felt enthused to explore further.

He and a few of his neighbors made a small group and called a Saija staff to their place to know more about Saija and its products. Abhay Kumar, an FE with Saija, visited them. Abhay explained to them the product, the concept of joint liability, loan sanction and recovery process.
Anand and his likeminded friends found Saija’s product and process to be very conducive to their requirements and a God sent boon for small entrepreneurs like them. They immediately showed their eagerness to get associated with Saija. As per the company’s requirements, Abhay did the due diligence and accordingly a five member group was formed to avail of the facilities of Saija.

History with Saija

With the sanctioned loan amount of Rs. 10,000, Anand gave a much required face lift to his foot wear shop and also increased his inventory. The repayment frequency for the 1st cycle loan was through daily collection at the rate of Rs 100 per day (except Sunday). Though Anand was confident that his investment would pay off yet he was apprehensive about being able to meet the daily installment amount of Rs.100. However, with improved business that the loan amount ensured, he was able to meet daily installment quite comfortably.

Meanwhile, he also completed his graduation.

In second cycle, two members of the group dropped out. One because he shifted his shop to some other place and the other quit because he took the loan and gave it to his brother and while repayment his brother used to create issues at home. But, at the same place,there were other friends of Anand and prospective clients for Saija, who were eager to join
the group. At present the group (Jay Mata Di) is in its 4th Cycle.

Anand says, “For poor people like me, even a penny matters. Saija came as a boon for me and my family when I was in extreme need of money for stabilizing my business. Saija gives loan to entrepreneurs like us for empowering us and improving our living standards. The things he likes best about Saija:-

  • Saija’s process of loan recovery/collection is very good. The loan is given at reasonable terms and when well utilized, the loan repayment amount seems
    reasonable and not burdensome.
  • Saija is the only company that gives loan to male entrepreneurs.

Whenever I asked for loan from any other MFIs, the first thing I was asked was, ‘ARE YOU MARRIED?’, as they used to provide loan only to women. It was quite awkward. I asked myself, “Do I need to be married for raising a loan for my business?” But now I tell them that there is a company which can provide me loan even if I am unmarried, and that is ‘Saija’. “I am and I will, always remain thankful to Saija for the rebirth it gave me.” When he was asked to give any suggestion, for making Saija or its services a little better, after thinking a while he came up with one, and that was, “Saija should decrease the duration between the days when the loan is fully repaid and the beginning of the next cycle of the loan.” He showed his interest in joining mobile repayment system (EKO) as well and appreciated the initiative. He asked to introduce EKO in his area. In addition, he smiled and requested to increase the loan size in his next cycle.

Present Scenario

Today, Anand is staying with his father and siblings and is able to comfortably meet the household expenses and also make a reasonable saving. A major portion of what he saves is pumped back into his business.

His both sisters are educated and married in good families. He made her youngest sister do a beautician course with his savings. His elder brother, who is double MA, is now married and has established a sound business in gold jeweler. His younger brother’s science graduate from ‘Navodaya Vidyalaya’, also runs a successful business. The standard of living got better with essential furniture, ceiling fan and lights in the house. Gradually, they also purchased TV, Fridge, Washing Machine, and Inverter.

It has been an incredible journey for the family from a state of penury to a life of dignity and reasonable comfort.

Not only Anand, his family members too thank Saija, for making the journey from ‘washed out rice with onion’ to ‘a good quality and variety of food’ possible.

Above all, now, they dare to dream…!!

Being physically challenged Anand has all his life faced many other challenges. He was left behind in many a race of life. Tired, defeated and depressed, he was losing all hopes when Saija came to his rescue.

With the entrepreneurial skills which he demonstrated, he has managed to consolidate his business and has earned a good name for himself. He always found Saija by his side in his journey towards self sustenance and progress. He has gradually gained faith and confidence in himself.

Today, he and his family miss the ‘home maker’ they lost, but they are living a far better life, and are able to meet most requirements of every member of the family.

When he compares his and his family’s previous life with the present one, he just says it’s a ‘Rebirth’.