Free To Be … An Entrepreneur

Jasuben’s Story

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Jasuben arrived flat broke and alone.

Except for her five kids. Abandoned by her husband, Jasuben was left to fend for herself and provide for her family. She had no education and no marketable skills. Desperate, she started working as a day laborer picking okra in a nearby field. Her income was meager and erratic. She began to despair that her life would ever improve. And she began to fear her children’s futures would be bleak.

Even though her circumstances were desperate, Jasuben had an idea.

She had always been a bit of a dreamer, and this time, her idea just might transform the future of her family. If only she had the resources to make it happen.

One of Jasuben’s friends from their village, Lakshmi, owned a small business grinding spices. Jasuben began to wonder how her friend was able to start this business. She had no more education or skills than Jasuben. So she asked Lakshmi.

And Jasuben received the best news ever.

There was a group in her village that gave small loans to worthy applicants so they could begin their businesses. So Jasuben gathered up her courage and made a visit to this group, one that Dalit Freedom Network supports. She presented her idea: mixing glass cleaner for home use. Immediately the group saw the value of Jasuben’s idea and the need in the community and presented her with a loan to get her business up and running.

Today, Jasuben earns enough to support her family with a degree of stability and comfort. This is thanks to people like you. People who want to set others free.

It takes just $25 to help a woman start her own business. Today, please consider helping free another woman to be an entrepreneur.

Give To Free To Be

You can also support women by purchasing a hand crafted elephant made by women in one of our economic empowerment programs, The Lydia Project. Check it out here.

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At-Risk Girls and Women Discover Rescue is Real

These beautiful girls were rag pickers.

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Up at 4:30 a.m. and out of the house by 5, three girls in Bangalore climb through dumpsters and walk the streets looking for bits of paper and plastic they can turn into a few rupees. Exposed to filth and toxins, they cover their faces with rags and their eyes sting as they go about their work. The stench is sometimes overwhelming, the heat almost unbearable.

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At the end of the day, home is little refuge. Living conditions are miserable and their fathers are either absent or addicted to alcohol. Their mothers have no education and no vocational skills.

It was altogether a bleak life. But not any more.

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Today, these three girls describe their former life as “a living hell.” In their slum, most of the girls earn income by garbage collection, begging, petty theft or prostitution.

But these three have a brighter future. And so do their mothers.

Because of your support of our women’s shelters, these girls are safe. They are getting an education. They have dreams for their future. And their mothers have access to training programs. Cosmetology, tailoring, computers, English language conversational skills. These are the tools that hold the keys to a better life.

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Now these girls describe their lives with words like “safety,” “gratitude,” even “love.”

What a difference a little bit of love makes.

If you want to make a difference, please consider giving today. Any amount will make an impact on a girl or a woman. Just write “girls and women” in the comments field when you give.
 To help others understand what life is like for a great many people in India, please share this post using the links at the bottom of the page.

LAMP Programs #makeithappen for women!

One of the best ways Dalit Freedom Network and our partner in India, Good Shepherd Economic Development (GSED), addresses women’s issues is through  economic development initiatives, called LAMP programs. LAMP stands for Livelihood Augmentation Management Program. Here is a simple breakdown of the various ways LAMP programs empower women and communities.

What is a LAMP Group? 

LAMP Groups (community-based groups) are Self-Help Groups of 10-15 women coming from underprivileged social and economic backgrounds.  Members of the LAMP Groups voluntarily come together and make small, regular contributions to a common fund.  Once there is enough capital, funds are then lent back to the members to help them start small businesses or, in some cases, to meet their emergency needs.

The intended larger benefit of LAMP Groups is that its members should learn values such as stewardship and prudent living along with gaining business skills for the ultimate uplifting of families and eventually, entire local communities.

Further, GSED appoints a LAMP Officer to provide assistance and training to LAMP Group members to avail Government programs and benefits. GSED started 1722 groups with 21612 members in the past 5 years.

LAMP Groups to date:

  • No. of LAMP Groups :   1,722
  • No. of total Members in LAMP Groups :  21,612
  • No. of locations in the country :         41
  • No. of LAMP Officers :         17

 

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What is a LAMP Grant? 

GSED provides grants to the needy of the targeted community for starting small self-employment ventures like cottage dairy, cottage poultry, petty business, etc.  After a certain period of time, the owners of such ventures are free to give a free will donation back to LAMP Grant which enables us to give grants to more people in the community.

Most women, who make up the majority in impoverished local communities,  are often either unskilled or semi-skilled. LAMP Grants will specifically address their needs and problems and assist such women in their empowerment.

Total Number of LAMP Grants to date:  8,600

Schemes/Programs for LAMP Grants

  • Cottage dairies : Buffaloes & Cows
  • Sewing/Tailoring : Tailoring and Embroidery
  • Petty Shop : Groceries & Common Domestic Commodities
  • Spices: Spice Pounding & Packing
  • Auto Rickshaws : Three-Wheeler Cabs
  • Bamboo Basket Making : Making and Marketing of Bamboo Baskets
  • Veg & Fruit Vending : Hawking on Pushcarts & Stationary Vending
  • Petty Mechanics : Automobile Repair Shops
  • Goat Farming : Cottage Goat Farming
  • Music instruments : Instruments for Local Music Bands
  • Piggery : Cottage Piggery
  • Agriculture : Kitchen Gardening
  • Snack Bars : Coffee/Tea, Snacks & Confectioneries
  • Barber Shop :  Single and Double Seat Barber Shops
  • Welding Shop :  Metal Fabrication Units
  • Poultry :  Cottage Poultry for Chicken and Eggs

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What is Community Based Vocational Training? 

GSED provides Community Based Vocational Training (CBVT) which includes foundational, entrepreneurial and technical/vocational skills in areas as mentioned below.  We have trained 5728 women in different skills training from 2008 to 2014. Right now we have 17 CBVTs with 340 students in this batch. 

  • Cottage dairies : Buffaloes & Cows
  • Sewing/Tailoring : Tailoring and Embroidery
  • Piggery : Cottage Piggery
  • Welding Shop :  Metal Fabrication Units

 

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Women’s Success Stories: 

Tailoring Centers:

Women of a community in South India, had a desire to learn sewing skills but had no opportunity to do so because of their repressed role in their communities.  But since GSED set up its tailoring center there, scores of women have not only successfully learned this trade but also are now employed or self-employed.  These women have gained a high level of self-respect in their society.  This was possible all because of their proven track record as responsible members of their families, thereby enabling them to create a productive work force in the larger society itself.  Such women now have a voice to claim their well-deserved rights and slowly but steadily eradicate the wide prevalence of gender bias from their local society. 

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Devadasie: 

Early this year a tailoring center was launched in Karnataka to teach tailoring skills (a six-month course) for about 40 women from challenged, high-risk (for temple prostitution and trafficking) backgrounds.  Some of the women enrolled are second generation Devadasis (temple prostitutes)This endeavor will go a long way toward redeeming these young and beautiful lives out of a vicious lifestyle.  At the end of six months, these women will be able to support themselves with an economic skill and earn their own living with respect and dignity.  We believe that respect and dignity is the birthright of every human being.

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Buffalos:

Ms. Ramadevi (age 30) is a member of one of our LAMP groups. She is married with three children.  She comes from a Dalit community.  Her husband is an unskilled laborer and an alchololic.  He rarely goes to work and spends most of his income drinking.

Ramadevi started taking loans from money lenders at high interest rates to meet her family’s needs.  She was unable to pay the these loans in time and the money lenders started threatening her to pay the accumulated interest and principal amounts. Being in dire straits, she approached GSED and asked for help to find a job.  Instead, we offered to provide a grant to buy a buffalo.   She now earns around 200 Rupees a day from selling the buffalo’s milk which enabled her to pay off most of the heavy debts with enough money to provide for her family.  Above all, she is able to live with dignity.

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As you can see, economic development is a powerful tool in the transforming of entire communities. And women are often the catalysts for these programs. This month, please consider investing in their empowerment and help them #makeithappen for their families and communities! 

 

Did you know it costs only $100 to free a woman from a life-cycle of abject poverty? With an investment of $100, a woman can receive the means and training to start her own business… whether that is selling buffalo milk, a fruit and veggie cart, grinding and selling chili powder, tailoring and sewing projects. It is such a minimal investment with an immeasurable return.

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