Opportunity's Senior Vice President of Global Philanthropy, Mark Lutz, traveled to India to meet some of our incredible clients. Over the course of the next two weeks, he will share a few of the stories of the powerful moments he experienced and inspiring people he met.
I had to bend over to get through the door. Once inside, we sat cross-legged on the floor facing each other. Chairs were a luxury absent from most of the homes we visited. A single light bulb hung from an electric cord, dangling precariously from the tin roof. Her cow-dung floor was covered by a grass mat where I sat, listening to their stories.
We'll call her Santi, this woman directly across from me. They were all timid, but Santi in particular. For her first microfinance loan, she opted to borrow only 5,000 Rupees—about $80. In her own words, "I was being cautious." She sold slippers and house shoes to earn a living, but she soon learned that she was losing sales due to her limited variety. So when her first loan was paid off, she borrowed about $325 and expanded her selection, resulting in more and happier customers.
The basics of business don't get much simpler, and Santi is now "financially included." Though still early in the game, along with the others in her group, Santi cited several benefits she has received by working with Opportunity. Originally uncomfortable in the bank, but buoyed by the other four members of her group, Santi has opened an account and, for the first time in her life, has savings.
That cushion, coupled with her cash flow, makes it possible to pay school fees and provide better health care for her children. Though I've heard this hundreds of times, regardless of the country or continent, I'm struck again by the confidence and dignity that flows from so little.
Thank you for making this transformation a reality for Santi and millions like her.