Joyasree (Ranu) Mahanti launched the Nano Finance concept she developed in her home state of Odisha, India in November 2007. During the past decade, more than 10,000 women who live in extreme poverty in the rural villages and urban slums of Odisha have benefited through Nano Finance system.The Nano Finance system does not make the women dependent but gives them opportunity to learn the importance of equal rights, better health, value of education to their children, and benefit of working together. They earn respect from their husbands and other family members being earning members of their families. A few dollars in their hands give them self confidence, security, and opens the doors to have dreams for better life.
The Nano Finance system does not make the women dependent but gives them opportunity to learn the importance of equal rights, better health, value of education to their children, and benefit of working together. They earn respect from their husbands and other family members being earning members of their families. A few dollars in their hands give them self confidence, security, and opens the doors to have dreams for better life.
All the training centers are located in the interior villages of Odisha and provide livelihood to hundreds of girls and women of those areas. Aamara Biswas encourages the women and girls to make each center as production unit. As a result in a few years, the center will be self sustained by marketing their products and keeping some profit for running the center.The training/production center was established in April 2012 to give training to young girls/women for making garments. Aamara Biswas used to rent a small room for the training purpose. In May, 2016 the training/production unit has moved to the Aamara Biswas Center. There is no more rental cost. Many of them now are making money by making garments and supporting their families. The women who don't have sewing machines come to the center to use the sewing machines free of cost to make garments which Aamara Biswas markets their products to help them. The women are able to purchase the sewing machines for themselves after the training. They are asked for a small down payment and after affordable monthly payments, the sewing machines then belong to them.
This project is necessary for the health of women living in poverty. We have found that the women prefer to spend money for food or school fees, causing challenges to their personal health.Aamara Biswas started the Sanitary Napkin Unit in 2015. It is a difficult and challenging project to sustain in a short time period. At the same time, it is a very important project to support the women’s health. It is encouraging to see how, in a few years, the women of the villages have become aware of the importance of using disposable sanitary napkins. Once they use it, they don’t want to go back to the old style. However, the price of the pads must be affordable. Currently, the cost of making the pads is more than the sale price. Also, the women earns some money by making and selling the pads. In 2016, we raised enough money through gofundme campaign and some personal donations for buying a machine to make pads with wings and buying raw materials.Sanitary Napkin is necessary for the health of women living in poverty. We have found that the women prefer to spend money for food or school fees, causing challenges to their personal health
Aamara Biswas started this project in 2010. In the beginning women bought the filters under the Nano Finance scheme. There has been a significant reduction in waterborne diseases by using the water filters. Though the women understand the benefit of these filters, still they prefer to spend money towards building a livelihood rather than buying the filters. Getting them to return this loan was difficult and took more than a year. Most of the women returned their loans after multiple visits to their homes. Aamara Biswas has decided not to give the filters under the Nano Finance scheme; instead, the women have to just buy them. Aamara Biswas does not invest any amount to expand the project. The return money is re circulated for buying the parts and new filters. Aamara Biswas started Water Filter Project for better health of the families.
The Center is situated in an interior village of Jagatsingpur District of Eastern Odisha. The women take pride in having a physical space to gather, hold meetings and work; they feel that the Center belongs to them.The Aamara Biswas center is situated in Garama village of Jagatsingpur district. This was only possible due to some donor's kind financial support. The first floor is used by the sewing training and production unit and the Sanitary Napkin unit. The second floor is kept for different training purposes. Aamara Biswas's future plan is to make the center self sustained by creating different production materials. The women have their meetings in the center and they truly take a pride for the existence of the center. They feel the center belongs to them. Aamara Biswas was registered as a non profit charitable trust on December 14, 2007 at the district of Cuttack, state of Orissa to implement the Nano Finance concept in different parts of Orissa and India. Aamara Biswas (Our Trust) which truly could help the poorest of the poor women of the society. Also, the Collector of Sambalpur district (where I was working with BISWA) advised me to register an organization through which I could introduce and implement the Nano Finance concept without any complaint from the public or from the Government.
Aamara Biswas-Women helping Women through Nano Finance
Aamara Biswas, an Odisha-based organization, implements, coordinates, and focuses on the long term sustainability of the following projects, all of whose sustainability depends strongly on the coordinators and the women of the areas who benefit from the Nano Finance system.
In spite of all the progress India has made in different areas, the condition of the poorest of the poor has not changed, and remains as it has been over the centuries. Women who fall into this category constantly struggle for their daily livelihood. Additionally, some have alcoholic husbands. Consequently, household burdens fall in the their hands, forcing them to become the main caretakers of their families. I realized that to help this group, I had to find a way to make these women economically viable.One of the root causes of their helpless situation is the emergency need of small amounts of money (for food, sickness, education, death, and daily needs, etc.). They cannot go to the government, commercial banks, or to microfinance institutions for their emergency needs. Read more
This requires satisfying several rules and regulations. This process is impractical and unhelpful to the poorest of the poor, who have always emergency needs of small loans and when they do not have any savings. The only option they have is to go to the moneylenders who loan them money with a minimum interest rate of 120% per year. The poor don’t have any choice but to go to the moneylenders when there is a dead body in the house and there is no money to buy wood for the cremation, when there is no money for the medical treatment for the family, when there is no money to buy food for a day, and there is no money to send children to school. Most of the time, they cannot pay back the entire principal in a lump sum which is required by the moneylenders, and therefore, continue to pay interest for the rest of their lives. Sometimes, the situation forces them to take another loan to pay back their previous loan or take another emergency loan.
The idea of Nano Finance came to me when I found out that a young woman was paying 50 rupees interest (monthly) for a loan of 500 rupees that she took from a money lender for her son's medicine. She couldn't get out from the loan unless she managed to pay the entire principal of 500 rupees at a time. This was not possible for her family of five members (husband , wife, two school going children, and her mother) with a joint income of 2000 rupees. I have eye witnessed many such cases with heart breaking stories. For a few years, I gave interest free small loans to several women from my personal funds for their emergency needs with one condition that they would return the money in one year or help another women with the same money. But at the end of one year they must return the money, so that I could give interest free loans to others in similar situation. Most of the time I didn't know these women. They all returned their loans. As a result, I was convinced of the need of such a project - a project through which small interest free loans could be given to women for their emergency needs ---- the start of Nano Finance.
After working with Basundhara and BISWA (Two Orissa, India based non profit Organizations) for 12 years and developing and implementing many new projects, I decided to start a new organization, Aamara Biswas (Our Trust) which truly could help the poorest of the poor women of the society. Also, the Collector of Sambalpur district (where I was working with BISWA) advised me to register an organization through which I could introduce and implement the Nano Finance concept without any complaint from the public or from the Government. Aamara Biswas was registered as a non profit charitable trust on December 14, 2007 at the district of Cuttack, state of Orissa to implement the Nano Finance concept in different parts of Orissa and India. My dream is to spread this concept to other parts of the world. Aamara Biswas literally means "Our Trust". This organization belongs to the women who are the clients and it can only sustain with their trust.