Shaheena Begum and her husband have been scrap dealers for the past 10 years. She has been a Grameen Koota member for 8 of those 10 years. “Earlier, we depended on chit funds when we needed money. The rate of interest was very high. We just borrowed for our needs, we couldn’t think of expanding our business or branching into other areas.” After Shaheena became a Grameen Koota member, they stopped borrowing.
“Our business improved when I got easy access to working capital,” she says. Access to finance also broadened her horizon. “I started a tamrind business,” she says. “Then, I started selling mangoes.” Shaheena has two children, a 13-year-old son and an 11-year-old daughter. “Grameen Koota gives me an education loan every year. It helps me pay for my children’s education,” she says. Apart from easy access to finance, access to information and knowledge has helped her as well, says Shaheena. She is a keen follower of Jagruti, Grameen Koota’s customer awareness program delivered every week, in the form of conversational letters written by an imaginary character Jagruti. The letters are read aloud by one of the women in the group during the loan recovery meetings. “Jagruti sends us letters about women-related issues. She talks about diverse issues ranging from health to money management to our rights. We wait for her letters every week,” Shaheena says, smiling.