A loan of $1,375 helped a member to pay for purchasing bamboo and coloring.

Mirabai Group's story

Baijayanti Pada is one of the slum areas of Ward No.12. of Balangir municipality in Odisha, India. The special identity of this slum area is that it is inhabited by the Mahar community (Weavers of Bamboo).The inhabitants of this community are very poor and far away from the basic necessities of life like shelter and education. They reside in small huts and their children can rarely get a good education.

The main business of this community is making hand fans of bamboo and selling them in the market, railway station and bus stand and nearby villages. The income they get from this is hand-to-mouth for them. To overcome this situation, in the year 2010 six women of this community formed a Joint Liability Group named Mirabai to access a loan from Mahashakti Foundation to add some extra income for their family so as to improve their existing status. Bisaya, aged about 41, is one of them. The lady sitting second from right with raised hand in the photograph is Bisaya. She lives with her husband, one son of 25 years and two daughters of 20 and 18 in a small house.

Bisaya is doing her traditional business of bamboo crafts (making bamboo hand fans).All Bisaya's family members do the processing work and make hand fans. Bisaya procures the raw materials from a distant place, 100 kilometer away. Bisaya sells the finished products in the town, railway station and bus stand. She earns a monthly income of 5000 INR from her business. This small income is barely enough for Bisaya to manage her family expenses. So to meet the expenses smoothly, Bisaya wants to increase the income of her family. From the present loan she is planning to purchase raw bamboo and coloring for making more hand fans. She believes that this will help her to increase her income level to some extent. Bisaya dreams of repairing her house and constructing another room for her family.

The other five members of the group are Gulapi (running a rice business along with tailoring) and Labani, Rabi, Gita and Sonia doing the same business of bamboo hand fan weaving.

In this group: Gita*, Gulapi, Rabi, Labani, Bisaya, Sonia
*not pictured

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