Micro-loans help address domestic violence and more in India

By April 18, 2008

India (MNN) — Domestic abuse is a major problem in India. At least that's the word from Bhuvana Nataraj, an Opportunity International partner working in the state of Tamil Nadu.

She says their micro-loans allow them to help women who are dealing with it. "We give it to groups of women, so that helps them come together as a group in the first place. And when they come together for the group meetings every week, we have a platform to do training. That platform is used for doing business training and making them aware of social issues."

According to Nataraj, "It is pretty prevalent and especially because of the attitudes toward women. Besides the physical abuse, there's also economic and psychological abuse that happens. It is often seen as a family problem, so people do not get involved with that."

Opportunity International's approach provides emerging entrepreneurs with access to small loans and training that will enable them to start or expand their own businesses. They're helping 18,000 women in the region with $100 to $200 loans to help establish small businesses like flower and food vending, clothing shops, and other small businesses.

By helping a poor family to increase their income, microenterprise development has an immediate and lasting impact on quality of life – the ability to afford food, shelter, education and healthcare. As business income increases, the business is able to expand, and the effect spreads beyond the family into the local community, through employment and contribution to the local economy. Thus, the benefits of microenterprise development help grow not just businesses, but stronger communities as well.

Opportunity's desire is to live as examples of Christ by helping break the chains poverty and setting them free from the bondage of loan sharks. Nataraj says they also represent Christ. "I would say the work that we do is pretty significant in that. It's more life-style evangelism. They do know motivation as to why we do what we do."

Nataraj says micro-finance work lays the ground work for changed hearts. "We do play one role in preparing the ground, and we try to put them in touch with the local church to further the journey. Many of these women do receive the goodness and they do pass it on and they do become agents of transformation."


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