When you hit rock bottom, you have nowhere to go but up. Let us tell you a story. A story that exemplifies the value of empowerment, determination, and hope. It began in Sawanga village in Maharashtra, where a farmer had a daughter named Lata. She studied till 8th standard but soon was married into a joint family. Her husband sold mumra-namkeen in the weekly market, but his earnings were insufficient. When affording even the bare necessities became a struggle, Lata started working as a daily laborer.
She loved her two sons and when her 2 years old got sick, she naturally had to leave her job. Without sufficient money or access to proper medical care, her toddler died. Devastated and broken, she had to even leave her in-laws house and her husband, and stay separately with her elder son. Her life was in shambles with no respite in sight. She could either accept defeat or choose to rise against odds. She chose the latter.
She started a self-help group and encouraged other women to join as well. The initial 6 members managed to save some money from their monthly expenses. Pooling their resources, soon their group got a loan. Lata took her share, and with the help of her son, started selling namkeen. Her earnings grew, but not as much as her dreams. Life took a turn for the better, once their group approached ICICI Bank for a loan.
ICICI Bank, on a path to make Indian women economically independent and self-reliant, has launched the ‘Self Help Group – Bank Linkage’ program exclusively for women in rural India. The program, one of the many other initiatives of ICICI, provides affordable loans to women-led groups and helps them start or expand their business. It promotes entrepreneurship among rural women and helps them earn a sustainable livelihood.
Lata became one of the 2.5 million+ women that ICICI has empowered by providing loans worth more than 5000 crores across all locations. With her share of the loan, she bought machines and raw materials at wholesale rates. Her production doubled and her confidence grew as well. All the women in her group did well and after they paid off the first loan, ICICI Bank gave them a second, bigger loan. This time she used the money to buy a van to transport her namkeen and also started making new types of snacks. Soon she started selling to wholesalers in places like Mumbai and Nagpur.
She now earns well, lives with her husband, and enjoys financial stability. ICICI played a significant role in her success, helping her gain security, independence, and confidence. Lata’s story is one among many other similar stories. ICICI Bank, with its initiatives, including Skill Development (for vocational skill building), Digital Villages (for making rural India self-sufficient), and Education (aimed at empowering schools in rural India), has impacted the lives of more than 17 million underprivileged Indians!
The path to development is strewn with obstacles. The prime obstacle being the lack of support to promising people. Empowering women is the need of the hour, and also the first step to ensure all-round development in a populous country like India. Organizations like ICICI Bank are doing their bit. Are we?