Microloans Boost Business for Women in India

Humanitarian efforts are one of the causes Campaign 100: LCIF Empowering Service will support. Lions Clubs International Foundation (LCIF) wants to serve 200+ million people each year while increasing service impact, fighting diabetes, and expanding our global causes . This is one example of how Lions can create large impact through the assistance of a grant from LCIF.

The LCIF Microenterprise Development Program

What would the world look like if those most in need were empowered to achieve their dreams? The Lions of MD 322 in India and Lions Clubs International Foundation (LCIF) partnered to find out. The LCIF Microenterprise Development Program is an example of how Lions and LCIF together can improve the lives of those in need. Five thousand women took the opportunity in hopes they could give their children a better life and a brighter future.

The Microenterprise Program is a project that uses grants from LCIF, money raised by local Lions, and a micro-lending organization local to the area to provide loans to small-business entrepreneurs. Women and disabled citizens in poor areas of the world are given the opportunity to use a loan to give their business a boost. The boost helps their business to grow so they can properly provide for their families. Many types of businesses are eligible for the program, including farming, small shops, tailoring, and cleaning services.

The two-year pilot project involved Eastern India Lions Leadership Academy and a micro-lending bank, ASA International India Microfinance, Ltd. When the project neared completion, Past International President (PIP) Barry Palmer took a trip to India to visit groups in Kolkata and Siliguri.

Eager to Talk About Future Plans

The women who received loans were eager to answer PIP Palmer’s questions and talk about future plans. As their businesses began to do well, their first priority was to provide their children with an education. Some of the women had a secondary priority to build another room in their home that they could rent out for additional income. By the end of the program, 100% of the microloans had been paid back.

The program had a positive impact on an estimated 20,000 people, assuming each of the 5,000 women who received a loan has, on average, a husband and two children.

Lions really drove the success of this program.

Women leaders in the microenterprise program gather weekly to discuss business.

The women in the program gather once per week to discuss business and make their loan payments.

“I can’t speak highly enough of the Lions who are involved in driving the program at a local level,” said PIP Palmer. “Because of their commitment in gaining their share of the funding and working with ASA International, this program is becoming a great success for the people in the lower social-economic area.”

This is a wonderful example of the empowerment Lions Clubs International Foundation provides. LCIF empowered Lions who then empowered impoverished women to build successful businesses. These women are now able to give their children enough to eat and can afford to send them to school. They will continue to build their businesses with confidence, knowing they are bright, successful entrepreneurs.

Watch this video to meet some of the women who received loans through the program, like Rabia Bibi and Murshida Biba. Through the empowerment of our foundation, and the partnership with ASA International India Microfinance, Ltd., Lions really had an immeasurable impact on these women, their families, and their communities.

This story was originally published in the July/August 2018 issue of LION Magazine.

Visit LCIF.org/BE100 to learn how Campaign 100 will sponsor and deliver programs addressing the distinct needs of at-risk and vulnerable populations such as the elderly, the disabled, females, orphans and others disproportionately impacted by social and economic factors and requiring special services.

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