Name – Ranu Buhiye
Group – Vivekanand NRLM Dal
Post – Member
Village – Birsingha
Block – Patrasayer, Dist. Bankura
This case study deals with a 32-year-old working woman, Ranu Buhiya, and the initiatives she has undertaken. Presently, she is a member of self-help group Vivekanand NRLM Dal, which she joined in 2017. Buhiya lives in Birsingha village, in the Bankura district of West Bengal. She has a six-member family with two school-going children. In her livestock, she has two goats, cows and a calf.
Buhiya used to collect leaves of sal tree (Shorea robusta) from the nearby forest. After collecting the leaves, she would prepare leaf plates and sell them at the local market. This was her major source of income. She used to live in a kutcha house that lacked basic amenities of sanitation and electricity. Due to her poor economic conditions, she was unable to save money for hard times and if someone fell ill in the family, she had to borrow money from others, which would push her family back into a debt trap.
After joining the SHG, she started gaining financial support. She started expanding her ‘leave plates’ business by increasing her production with the help of machines. Currently, she has three tailoring machines and a punching machine. She bought these machines with the monetary support given by the self-help group to its members.
Earlier, Buhiya used to herself collect the leaves from the forest, but now, she purchases them in bulk from the tribal people of Sonamukhi village. This also helped people from the tribal community to earn a living through her project. Then, she stitches and molds the raw leaves into round-shaped plates with the help of a punching machine. At present, she produces around 2,000 plates a day, sells them to a local dealer in bulk from her home itself, and is able to earn Rs 15,000 per month as net profit.
Being a member of the SHG, she availed her first loan of Rs 5,000 from the Community Investment Fund. Then, with the help of the SHG, she availed another loan of Rs 50,000 from the bank to expand her business. She repays her loan every month because of the financial literacy training given to her during sessions organised by the West Bengal State Rural Livelihoods Mission, from where she understood the benefit of monthly repayment of the loan.
During the SHG training programme, she also learned how to maintain records and the importance of savings. After this, she tried to imbibe the saving habit. Besides this, she also received moral support from other members of the SHG. The SHG provided her a platform where she could explore herself.
Occasionally, due to busy engagement with her business to deliver big orders on time, she skips meals as she has household work and other commitments as well. It is only possible for her to make leaf plates in her spare time. Members of the SHG taught her the importance of a timely and healthy meal to avoid anemia in women.
She is indebted to her SHG members as this business has boosted her morale and respect at home and in the village. It also gives her the power to take financial decisions at her home. Today, she can look after her family and bear their expenses. She also has a bank account, where she can deposit her savings, and has registered herself under the Swasthya Sathi Scheme. The example of Ranu Buhiye is best suited to understand how microfinance programmes can help rural women to uplift themselves and their family out of poverty, and earn a healthy living.
Featured image is representational.