August 2019.

Widowed, divorced, or unmarried women in rural Indian villages face discrimination, isolation, and poverty. This impacts their mental and physical health, participation in community life and ability to earn a stable income.

Assisi Aid Projects works to empower women and build their social and economic capacity through training in essential life skills and the provision of loans to facilitate income generation. Mrs. Devasi* is a 36-year-old widow with three children from the Melarasur village. She enthusiastically participates in project activities, including the Single Women’s Group and Velichem Federation, where she has been supported by other single women and project staff, and has received training in organic farming and financial management.

Small loans empower women to start businesses like farms, providing financial independence

A loan of $207 allowed Mrs. Devasi to start a tapioca farm, taking the first step towards financial independence. Her first harvest made an income of $621, enabling her to both repay her loan and generate a small livelihood. The provision of a second loan meant she could expand the business and improve the water supply which developed the quality of the tapioca. Next year she hopes the crop will yield $1,242, which will she plans to use to support her children's education. Mrs. Devasi uses the savings club to budget her annual income, which is used to provide for daily needs and longer term investment in the farm and school fees. Her success has allowed her to expand her business, she now employs daily labourers in her community which extends the impact of her work throughout the village.

*name changed to protect Mrs Devasi's identity