Mumbai is a fast growing Alpha city. It is known as the city where all steps are successes, a city where dreams come true for all those people that live in it. For the country, Mumbai is the financial capital of India. It has been developing new infrastructure and trade in the past decade. Important Indian companies base their headquarters in this city. Yet even with an exponential advance in the fields of urbanisation and technology, the population of the poor is growing fast. Mumbai is home to some of the largest slums in India and they are manifested with families of the financially limited. These people find it a challenge, to earn a living because they do not possess the job skills or the experience required to earn a substantially supportive wage for their livelihoods.
The Vandana foundation was set up in 2010 by Anami and Saumya Roy. It has one goal. It aspires to make poverty a by-gone in Mumbai. Well- recognised banks are under the notion that the poor cannot repay loans that are given to them. The foundation was set up to prove that this view is a stereotype against the needy. It bases its operations in Gandhinagar, close to the very areas in and around Dadar that these people come from. This is where their efforts can take full effect.
The loans provided by the foundation are small and feasible, but are only lent on conditions. The persons receiving it must do so only for business growth. There must be no personal consumption of the money given to the respective person. This is to ensure long- term profits from investments in their own stock. To receive a loan, young and old entrepreneurs come from all over Mumbai. There is a selection process for whether they should receive or be denied. It involves 4 steps:
Step 1: A detailed information form must be filled in including the person’s identity, profile, family background and amount daily earnings. If it is under Rs.100, then they may not receive a loan as they would not then possess enough money to keep for their household.
Step 2: A physical examination of the business is conducted. People may try to hide the price of what they earn and so this must be done to ensure that they are being legitimate when they state their background.
Step 3: A credit check is conducted. The foundation is signed in with a credit bureau, so that they can identify people who have taken loans from other micro- finance groups. This is essential so as to prevent the borrower from being burdened by the financial noose of multiple allowances.
The borrowers are encouraged to institute groups of persons that belong to the same area to encourage moral support when working to repay loans in the time period given.
The loans range from Rs.5000- Rs.20000. If the first loan of Rs.5000 is repaid with no trouble, they may be encouraged to apply for fixed loans up to Rs.20000 according to their history of repayment. If someone is unable to repay a loan, they do not have to do so but will not be allowed to borrow thereon after. This is conditional to the reason. If the borrower in question has been ill, and unable to operate then they may carry on with an extended period of reparation. 99% of loans are successful. Some have made more progress, than others, becoming quite successful and well- known by the local community for the quality in their line of work.
Most of the recipients do not have bank accounts. Due to prior experiences, many do not approach banks to open an account because they believe they will be denied. The Vandana Foundation is in cooperation with The First Rand Bank which allows them to open accounts for recipients that wish to do so. The government has chipped in and helped the movement. They have set up job skill programs for the service, banking, accounting and computer sectors. Those who take part in these programs are ensured jobs that pay them better than their previous ones.
Many people who wish to procure a loan have outstanding businesses that open quite colourfully. There is a group of scrap sellers that find litter from dump sites that have been discarded. They throw unusable litter away and keep the plastics and metals. They re-use the garbage. It is sold on the second- hand market. It is a hazardous job for health and safety but it benefits the city. Metals and plastics can be recycled in factories. This is an unusual business as there is trade in it too. They run their own barter system and trade with fruit vendors. Hence, they get fed and the latter gets a chance to make more money out of it. Most of the waste can be used in composting, for generating electricity. They are indeed the best citizens. Having received no kindness from the city, they continue to provide their services to it in their love for their home. They only wish to buy more tools for the job.
There are those who travel long distances every day. An old man travels from the suburbs into the city every day. He buys cut- pieces from the local markets, stitches them into clothes and then makes the tedious journeys to Pune and Lonavala on alternate days to sell them. He makes the effort because he gets joy out of clothing children.
There are masses of fruit vendors and “bhaaji walas”. Even the famous “dabba walas”. These people are the backbone of the city. Listening to their stories of daring makes me feel proud of calling them mumbaikars.
The staff at the foundation are no different. They are dedicated to their work. They hail from the slums, often children of the former borrowers. They only wish to make a better life for themselves and their friends and relatives. This is why they are vital to the cause. They can understand and relate to the lives of the people living around them. It helps the foundation understand the people’s plight.
The founders, Anami and Saumya Roy aim for the future. They wish to give micro- entrepreneurs the boost they need to make the climb across the wall of poverty easier. Their highest hope is that they have and will continue to make large changes for the good communities of Mumbai. Their work has been acknowledged globally by people of all sectors, including British royalty like the Duchess of Cornwall. They plan on taking this profession to new heights, paving pathways for all those poor that wish to lead happy lives and make better earnings. In truth, they simply want to touch lives and make them more suitable. Indeed, they truly have an auspicious purpose; “arth mangal”.
To seek or offer support visit: http://www.vandanafoundation.org/