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Standing Tall : Overcoming Challenges with the support of community based microfinance( Self Help Groups)

Photo: Manisha: Differently abled due to a hunchback.Used the community based microfinance for enhancing her education and completing her education.The next round of borrowing was to buy a computer to setup a passport pictures bbusiness

Manisha has a sunny smile and a spunky attitude. Although she is differently abled its something that she has accepted and taken in her stride. ” Nobody wants to marry me because of my back issue” she says but she credits the support of her entire village (Vetale-Maharashtra) and particularly the confidence given to her by her self help group (SHG) members-in overcoming the lack of confidence that she had earlier. “I never used to step outside my house or mix with others”. It was her mother’s foresight that helped Manisha . Because of her association with the SHG group, Manisha was able to borrow funds to set up a small passport pictures business in her village. Her main clients are all the SHG women members (approx 160 in number) who need pictures for various purposes like opening a bank bank, applying for a UID card etc. Earlier they would have to travel about 25 kms to Rajgurunagar (which is the Khed taluka headquarter) to take pictures.The convenience of having the facility in the village itself has been a win-win situation for all. Now Manisha wants to build her own home near her relatives in the village itself. She also has invested in a small Fuji camera and doubles up as a photographer in the village events. In addition to these endeavors, Manisha has a job as the Assistant Librarian in the village library. She loves books and is happy working in the village itself. “It’s my mother’s vision that has helped me” she says. Her mother encouraged Manisha to attend the SHG meetings, and participate in their proceedings from a young age since she (mother) realized the need to make her independent and yet build a support cadre where she would feel welcome. In a village that has no bank, college, police station, fire brigade and where power and water are scarce, the SHG route is a way to encourage and instill the saving habit as well as link the members to institutionalized credit. Manisha feels that others in a similar situation can benefit immensely if they are part of a vibrant and nurturing SHG set-up. Chaitanya, the Rajgurunagar based NGO (http://www.chaitanyaindia.org/contact-us) first started working in Vetale village nearly 22 years ago when road connectivity was practically nonexistent and the concept of savings and pooling in the same -alien. For Manisha the journey has been a long one -she is a member for over fifteen years but a fruitful one.

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