Tag Archives: The Saath Savings & Credit Co-operative Society Ltd.

Saath Savings and Credit Cooperative: Member’s story

Today we share with you the story of Lakshmiben, a member of Saath Cooperative, who has taken an asset creation loan from the Cooperative. Given below is her story of association with the Cooperative in her own words:

  • Name of the client: Lakhsmi Solanki
  • Age: 45 years

My savings are safe with Saath: Lakshmi Solanki

B4. Case Study - Asset Creation - Lakshmi SolankiLakshmi displays the bathroom she got made through an Asset Creation Loan from Saath-Cooperative.

My association with Saath started with the Compulsory Savings Plan in which I saved INR 100 per month without fail. I believe savings are very important as they ensure we remain afloat on a rainy day.

Soon enough, I realised that my house needed some renovation. When I discussed this issue with the field officer, she told me that I was eligible for a loan from Saath. The amount, INR 5,000 was exactly what I wanted and the installment and repayment schedule was also very agreeable.

Not only did I make repairs in the house, I also built a small bathroom – a facility which is pretty scarce in our neighbourhood. I am going to continue my relationship with Saath because of the conducive environment. I feel that my savings are safe with them and their loan structure is pretty simple to understand and easy on the pocket.

This story was documented by Ms. Devina Sarwatay who interned with Saath for a month in summer. She visited the field and met the members of the Cooperative.

Saath – Reaching across Generations

Microfinance – Initiated in 1994, Saath first started providing opportunities for savings in a community-based model. In 1999, Saath expanded its services with small loans. As demand grew, Saath established its operations in a more formal manner, with the establishment of a co-operative society structure. In 2002, two co-operatives were formed to work in two different areas of Ahmedabad. In March 2010, all the co-operatives came together to form, The Saath Savings and Credit Co-operative Society Ltd

Here given is the story of one of the members of our Co-operative.

I earn and save with Saath, just like my mother did: Darshana Prabhudayal

New Picture (7)Darshana Prabhudayal, an insurance beneficiary who is associated with Saath.

 As a teenager, Darshana always looked up to her mother, Tulsaben. Not only did Tulsaben take care of the entire house, she also worked, along with her husband, to support their family. When she was alive, she ensured that they made regular payments in the Compulsory Savings Plan with Saath.

Soon enough, she also started taking loans, as when she needed the money. Darshana said, “The field officers always explained the process clearly and my mother would discuss the monthly instalment that she wanted to pay off the loan with. She also had a good rapport with the branch manager.”

One such loan, of INR 30,000, that she had taken, was for home improvement. “While the renovation was on-going, she fell seriously ill and eventually succumbed to her illness. The branch manager immediately contacted us and asked us not to worry about the remaining loan repayment,” she stated.

She added, “That is when I realised that my mother had also taken an insurance policy which helped us clear off the debt at Saath without any hassle. Today, I earn my living and save with Saath, just like my mother did!

With a focus on instilling the habit of savings among people, The Saath Co-operative’s main aim is to offer the urban as well as the rural poor a way of accessing credit that is linked to them having to demonstrate a willingness to save in order to qualify for it. The Co-operative strives daily to promote equal participation of people, irrespective of their religious, economic and social background as well their gender. It provide loans at an affordable rate of interest and try and reach out to areas where no banking facilities are available due to various reasons. Through The Saath Co-operative, we aim to improve the standard of living of the people from the socially marginalised communities and for people living in varying degrees of poverty.

The Co-operative today has 7 branches and has more than 17,000 members cumulative savings of more than Rs. 5 Crores.

Do contact us if you want to visit our Microfinance Programme and know more in detail about it.

Work Wednesdays: Rehanaben’s story

Today we share Rehanaben’s story with you. She has been working with us for ten years now. She was involved in several programmes like the Balghars, Micro-finance and Samvad Community Video Unit. Read about her inspiring life story below!

Rehanaben was born in 1978 in Behrampura area of Ahmedabad. Her father, the sole bread earner of a family of nine, stopped earning after Rehanaben’s elder sister succumbed to injuries of an accident. The burden of nurturing and bread earning for her family then fell upon her mother and her elder brothers, both of whom had to drop out of their high school education. Rehanaben struggled hard to complete her schooling. She sold toffees to her school mates and earned income to carry out the expenses of her school fees. Her struggle to pursue education continued with her aspirations of graduating and post graduating.

Rehanaben came across SAATH when after the 2002 riots SAATH began its relief work in Behrampura relief camps to encourage residents there to get back to their routine and support their lives by generating income streams. Being good at academics, Rehanaben considered joining the Balghar program (pre-school) run by SAATH in the relief camps where she used to teach children and started earning an income of INR 2000 every month. This apart, Rehanaben also spearheaded the task of establishing a Micro Finance Institute in Behrampura. So dedicated was she towards her work that SAATH decided to carry out the daily operations of its Micro Finance Institute from her house in its initial days. In a span of two years, Rehanaben was able to have more than 600 families in the Behrampura area enroll with the MFI and start saving on a regular basis and beginning with microloans gradually.

While Rehanaben continued rendering her services to the MFI, SAATH came up with the concept of using documentary films produced and acted in by the community members to express their concerns over socio-economic occlusions in the community, known as SAMVAD. Initially when asked to join SAMVAD, Rehanaben was reluctant for two reasons; first, she lacked confidence in terms of producing a film and second, she did not want to give up on the hard work that she had put on in establishing an MFI in Behrampura. However, once she started producing films, she came up with brilliant ideas that brought about considerable changes in the community.

Rehanaben filming for Samvad

She describes two instances when she herself had to change to convince community through documentaries produced by her. One of them was when the SAMVAD unit was up for shooting against the Addiction of Tobacco in the community. Rehanaben was reluctant in shooting this film since she too had the same habit. It took her three months to get rid of the addiction which had been with her for quite long .Only then did she produce the film and was so convincing in the film that many youth took an inspiration from this and gave up on their addictions as well. Another path-breaking documentary that Rehanaben and her team made was on the Issue of Adulteration in Ration Shops. This was particularly a challenge for her since she belonged to a family of ration shop owners and the film was to be featured on her own uncles. However, she did not deter from bringing out the grievances of the community and shot the film. So compelling and eye opening was the outcome that the shop owners had to concede to fair selling practices after the screening of the film.

After serving in SAMVAD for three years, Rehanaben got back to the MFI operations in 2009 as it was the work that she had always admired and wanted to be associated with. Presently, she is placed as the Branch Manager of Sankalitnagar Branch of The SAATH Savings and Credit Co-operative Society. She describes being associated with SAATH as a major change in her life. “I had no knowledge on computers. It was in SAATH that I learnt many new technologies and also produced films” says an overwhelmed Rehanaben.

Rehanaben has been a paragon for most youth in Behrampura slums. Her undying valor and courage to step out of the confined four walls of the house confidently for serving across communities, has set up an example for many families, who now send their daughters to school and expect them to be self reliant like Rehanaben. Rehanaben is the face of Behrampura and will inspire people there to move ahead with their aspirations no matter what comes their way to make their lifestyles better and uplift the area.

Work Wednesdays: Compelling the Community

Today we  share Madhuben Parmar’s story with you. Madhuben is the Chief Operating Officer of the Saath Savings & Credit Co-operative Society Ltd. She played a significant role in setting up Saath’s Micro-finance programme.

Madhuben was born in 1975 in Paldi, Ahmedabad. She grew up in a slum area with her father, mother and two younger brothers. In 1992, when she was just 17, her father passed away. She describes this as the most difficult challenge in her life. From then on, Madhuben took full responsibility of helping and supporting her family.

Madhuben studied until 10th grade. In 1991 she got married and she quit school. She moved to her in-laws in Guptanagar, a slum area in Vasna. During this time, Saath started a programme for school-dropouts in this area. She joined Saath’s informal education programme as a student in 1990 and successfully finished 12th grade. During her time as a student she used to teach and help other students. After she passed 12th grade in 1992, she started in this same school as a teacher. This year was tough for her and her family. Her father passed away, leading her family into a financial crisis. She tried to help her family wherever she could.

At the school she taught classes from 1st  – 7th standard, she was the head of 4th to 7th standard and actively approached school drop-outs in the neighbourhood, mainly girls, to enrol themselves in her school. Right from the beginning she was part of Saath’s core-group and strategic management team.
At the annual meeting organized by Saath and a local CBO called Sakhi Mahila Mandal a job-vacancy for secretary at Sakhi was announced. Saath and Sakhi believed in her and Madhuben was keen on getting the job. She was secretary at this CBO from 1996 to 1998. At the same time she was the co-ordinator of Saath’s livelihood & micro-finance sector, covering various livelihood programmes from home-managers programme to stitching classes and Saath’s micro-finance programme.

In 1996 Saath was looking for opportunities to expand its Micro-finance services. Madhuben, in her role as coordinator of the liveihood & micro-finance sector, took a leading role to establish a branch for Micro-finance in Vasna. She was not afraid of taking risks and took full financial responsibility for this venture.

In 1999 she shifted to Saath’s micro-finance branch in Vasna. Before 1999, Saath’s micro-finance model only offered saving opportunities. In 1999 the organization started with small loans. Madhuben was determined to make this challenge a success. Especially in the beginning, she faced many issues in the community. People were very suspicious and did not believe in her good intentions. It was hard to develop trust to let her handle their money. She was also worried about the recovery of loans. It took a lot of effort to establish mutual trust. Madhuben has a very strong urge to do good for the community; with positive thinking she overcame the difficulties she faced. She got a lot of support from Saath. Trainings were organized and every week there was a meeting for all of Saath’s programmes. Field-workers were able to talk about their problems and share experiences. Madhuben says she gained a lot of self-confidence through these meetings.

In the mean time she gave birth to two sons. One in1997 and the second son followed in 2000. She never considered quiting her job after having children. Her family and husband supported her choice to pursue a career.

In 2002 two micro-finance co-operatives were formed. She became the overall programme coordinator of all the branches. In this year Saath expanded it’s model to several more areas, mainly the ones affected by the 2002 riots. Many people lost their livelihoods and were in need of small loans to set up new businesses.
Five years later she became the operation manager at the Micro-finance Institution (MFI). In 2010 the two cooperatives merged as the Saath Savings & Credit Co-operative Society Ltd. and she became the co-operative’s Chief Operations Officer.

She is proud of what she has achieved so far for herself, her family and for the community. She developed from a young insecure girl with no exposure to the outside world to an empowering strong woman. In 2006 she left the slum for a house in a legal society near her old neighbourhood. Her personal success has inspired numerous women in the community to develop themselves the way she did. Madhuben played a significant role in the development of the Saath Co-operative. Her strong will and determination made the co-operative a success, with 6 branches, 15,000 members and a loan recovery rate of 98%. However this does not mean that her work is finished. Her wish is to expand the co-operative to rural areas and urban slum areas all over of Gujarat. She believes that many people in poverty can develop themselves the way she did. It hurts her that people think of slum residents as people that don’t want to develop themselves and that they choose to live in poverty because they take no initiative. As long as the stigma of slum-people is there, her work is not finished.

She believes financial literacy and creating awareness is very important. She wants the people of slum-areas to make their own deliberate decisions. She wants them not to just follow good advice because other people say it’s the right thing to do. She wants them to understand their decisions and to take full responsibility for their own development. She wants families to empower themselves, so they can make poverty belong to history. She personally climbed the stairs of success and encourages others to do the same.
In the future Madhuben hopes to co-ordinate many more programmes to empowerment the urban poor. She wants to keep on working for the community until her heart is satisfied.

Simea Knip wrote up this story

Community Mondays: Savings & Credit

Our new blogging challenge for your Daily Dose of Saath: six stories a week about our interns, clients, visitors and programmes. If you have a story that belongs on this page, please mail us at rdc@saath.org. 
On monday we feature succes-stories and case-studies from the community. This monday we share the experience of the Hussain family from Juhapura with the Saath Savings & Credit Co-operative Society Ltd.

Name of the client: Sabir Hussain
Age: 38
Area: Juhapura

Sabir Hussain and his wife Firoza Hussain with 3 children have been residing in Juhapura, Ahmedabad for the last 3 years. Both husband and wife stitch clothes in order to earn their living. A few years back, before they started using the loan service provided by the Saath cooperative, they earned an income of Rs. 8,000 – Rs. 12,000, which wasn’t enough to pay their employees, feed their children and satisfy their daily household needs. During financial crises they used to borrow money from their businessman for a fixed period of time, and returned him that money within the given time. This was very tedious for them, as it was very difficult to collect such a large amount of money within a small period of time.

Two years ago, one of their 12 employees told them about the loans provided by the Saath co-operative. They were surprised to know that a facility like that was available and they further enquired about it. They formed a group of 4 and started taking loans from the Cooperative.. His wife is the leader of the group. She collects instalments, interest, stamp duty and Rs. 100 compulsory savings from all the members of her group and gives it to the field officer on a particular fixed date. She said that she never had problems repaying the loans with interest and she hadn’t experienced any problems in her group about repaying the loans.

She twice took loans from the Cooperative and is very happy with this service. She took a loan of Rs. 5,000 in the 1st cycle and Rs. 10,000 in the 2nd cycle for the purpose of buying a new sewing machine with better technology and sold the old machine. With the use of 2 new machines, they can stitch larger number of clothes in a short period of time and hence, now they earn Rs. 20, 000 – Rs. 25, 000 per month. She says: “I am extremely benefitted by this loan service, provided by Saath Cooperative. It helped me to expand my business by buying two new sewing machines and this has improved my financial status by increasing my profits.”

Due to increase in their income, they now can save Rs. 300 to Rs. 500 a month, apart from the Rs. 100 compulsory savings.

This case-study was conducted by Shalini Pal.