Valamarthi became an Opportunity International loan officer so she could fulfill her commitment to helping India’s impoverished people.
She had a special concern for gypsies, who are among the most stigmatized and oppressed communities in her country. Opportunity International offers India’s marginalized groups classes on how to profitably make and sell handcrafted goods such as candles, jewelry and other products. With the help of loans and business training, India’s gypsies, a traditionally nomadic people, have begun to establish roots in communities, build homes and send their children to school.
One of Valamarthi’s clients, Deepa, once gathered and sold discarded paper. Before applying for a small Opportunity International loan, Deepa barely survived on an income of less than $2 per day.
An initial $55 loan, however, enabled her to purchase boxes in bulk and profitably sell them in her local market. Expanding on this first success, Deepa used a $146 loan to invest in materials to make necklaces—an even more profitable business.
Inspired by Deepa’s progress, other gypsy women came to her for help. She told them about Valamarthi and the loans and training available through Opportunity International.
Several of the women have since become clients and organized a group to improve their livelihoods and communities. Despite the many challenges that Deepa and her fellow gypsies continue to face, they are strengthened by the tools that will help them build better lives as well as a new sense of possibility for their future.