Mark and Sue Real, Opportunity supporters from Colombus, Ohio, traveled on an Insight Trip to India to meet Opportunity's field staff and clients. The trip was eye-opening and inspiring—and they graciously shared a few of their experiences with us. We will be sharing their stories over the course of the week. Read Part 1 here, and learn more about traveling on an Insight Trip with us at opportunity.org/insight.
We drove to the home of the leader of a five-woman trust group. Our driver steered around chickens, goats, dogs, and cows. Piles of cow dung patties dried in the sun to be used later as cooking fuel.
Neighbors were curious about these new foreign visitors. As we walked toward our meeting place, heads began popping out of doorways. Children crowded to see what was happening. Mothers gently shushed babies so they could hear.
We joined a group of five women who were loan clients. Thomas Vinoy, an officer at Shikar Micro Finance, translated. The women warmly welcomed us as they did in every city.
Our host, Vilshanna, used her first loan of 15,000 rupees or $250 for a tailoring business to make clothes to rent. Her second loan was for 30,000 rupees or $500. She and her husband used this loan to buy stackable plastic chairs in bulk, which her husband now sells them at the market. She has five children: two in school, two older, and one a toddler. Her son is learning how to repair bikes.
Another trust group member, Sateen, received a loan that she and her husband invested in a goat and chicken butchering store largely serving Muslim families (since most Hindus are vegetarians).
A third member, Nacima, qualified for her first loan and used it to buy a sewing machine. She repaid her first loan and used subsequent loans to buy more sewing machines. She now has six machines and employs several other local women whom she has taught to sew. They make made-to-order clothes for individuals.
Her husband is a teacher at the madrasah, an Islamic school. Nacima also teaches Arabic to a group of local children. She now has a 100,000 rupee ($1,666) loan that she is using to expand her sewing business. The women proudly showed us samples of the clothing they had sewn.
We left the first trust group and walked down dirt paths to a meeting with 15 women who were members of four trust groups.
As was the case in every visit, the women were dressed in bright jewel colors with bangles and rings. They had covered their hair with colorful scarves. Four of the 15 women were holding their babies and one was nursing.
They had gathered to tell us about how they were using their loans to improve their businesses and their families' lives.
One woman used her loan to open a small cosmetics shop and tailoring business. After she repaid her first loan, she qualified for a larger one, which she is now using to expand her businesses.
Another couple showed us the tents they rent for weddings. They also rent fans and coolers. They employ 25 people for events. They repaid their first loan and qualified for a second. They used this additional loan to buy a festive, battery-powered rickshaw used to transport wedding parties.