Friday, March 12, 2021

Poverty is a Women's Issue in Rural India l KGM Celebrates International Women's Week Part 2

Women's Day

Equip: Establishing Financial Safeguards

Like many widows in India, Leela is young, just 37 years old. When her husband was killed in an accident, she suddenly found herself the sole provider for her two high school aged children. Her part-time factory work and small tailoring business barely earned enough to put food on the table and keep the children in school. If an unexpected medical bill or other emergency arose, Leela was financially unprepared to meet it.

At Kerusomen, we believe poverty is a women’s issue. In rural India, women have little or no access to financial services or training, a huge obstacle in their fight against poverty. In honor of International Women’s Day, see how access to a Christ-centered women’s ministry can equip rural Indian women like Leela to fight for their future.

Through her KGM church, Leela joined an Isos Transformation Group. She and 49 other women formed a Savings Group, each of them saving $1 a week. Soon group members could access loans from their pooled savings. As they met regularly to save money, learn from the Bible, and share with one another, Leela formed a strong network of support and accountability. She learned financial skills and how to better manage her money.

Slowly but surely Leela’s savings grew to $200 and she no longer worries about emergencies. She is very proud to be a member of ISOS: "I spent money badly. With the help of the group I have accountability. I have an investment."

Establishing Financial Safeguards is Tough for Women in India

In rural India, 90% of transactions are cash. Banks don't find it profitable to service savings accounts for women "who have little to put in them." The women aren't enthusiastic about the banks, either. To many women, visiting a bank can seem like another chore for which they have no time. When household work piles up, it's inconvenient to deposit today what you will need to live on tomorrow. Some opened bank accounts initially in the hopes of getting loans for larger expenses or emergencies, only to be sadly disappointed. Their small savings balances made banks reluctant to give them loans, leaving them at the mercy of informal money lenders who charge high interest rates. 

ISOS Savings Groups Equip Women

Savings: The women Kerusomen ISOS serves save money regularly to stabilize household income, provide a safety net in emergencies, start or expand businesses, or pay for household expenses such as school fees. 

Loans: Access to loans from the pooled group savings equips women to start and expand small businesses or make larger purchases.

To qualify for Isos Classes each woman makes an initial investment in herself by depositing $25 into a bank account that the Kerusomen Gospel Ministries Charitable Foundation helps them manage. Then each member adds to their pooled savings weekly by depositing around $1. As the account grows, members can access loans when needed. In class they learn basic accounting and savings principles so they keep track of their balance and interest. And rejoice with each other as it grows!

The biggest obstacle facing women in underserved villages is saving the initial $25 to join ISOS. It can take six months or more for most women, providing nothing unforeseen happens. Like Covid-19. The pandemic has crushed the dreams of many would-be ISOS members. 

We believe we're called to stand with these women. Their big ideas, fervent prayers, and tenacious spirits inspire us. And we pray you will be impassioned to join us in this calling. 

Your $25 Gift Helps a Woman Fight for Her Future

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