I had always a passion and dream to help alleviate suffering especially among the women in my home state of Odisha. I came to US in 1973 after getting married to Subhendra Dev Mahanti, a Physics professor at the Michigan State university. After raising our two children and taking early retirement from a job as a computer program analyst in 1997, I decided to pursue my dream and work for the most deprived population of the society. Though I did not have any formal background or training in social work or a business management degree, my 10 years of experience working in grassroot projects with different organizations in Odisha (1997-2007) inspired me to find a better way to help the poorest of the poor.
I realize that the condition of the poorest of poor (especially women) has not changed, as it has been over centuries. These marginalized women cannot go to the government or any commercial banks or to the micro finance institutions for their emergency needs. The only option for them is to borrow from the money lenders at the minimum interest rate of 120 % or more per year. The poor do not have any choice when there is a dead body in the house and there is no money to buy wood for the cremation, for the medical treatment for the family, to buy food for a day, and to send children to school. If they have the rare opportunity to participate in microfinance, it is hard for them to pay back their weekly or monthly commitment as required. Sometimes, the situation forces them to take another loan to pay back their previous loan. The Funding with Trust system is developed to help the women who are in such dire situation.
Sari (pictured left) will never understand the effect of her simple and naive story to her nani (founder) in one afternoon. Her story inspired the founder to implement the Funding with Trust system and start the Aaamara Biswas organization.
The Funding with Trust is a system where small amount of donation is given to the women for their emergency, livelihood, children’s education, and health care needs. The women are strongly encouraged to help other women by donating some amount to the system.
Some of my friends who regularly supported and believed in my work in Odisha for many years encouraged me to start a similar organization in U.S. Our Biswas (Our Belief In the Services of Women of All Societies) was established to empower the women of the world who are in extreme poverty through the Nano Finance system. The organization was formally incorporated as a Michigan nonprofit corporation on September 10, 2007, but deferred receiving or spending funds until it got 501(c) (3) tax exemption status on August 20, 2009.
The book, To India, with Tough Love by Jaya kamlani published in 2013. The author has covered Aamara Biswas under Good Samaritans chapter.
The piece is titled “Supporting Underprivileged Women” which came in May 2009 issue of ‘Grassroots’, – the oldest and famous development journal in India which is a publication of Press Institute of India (PII) based in Chennai. Click here to view the article.