SUPPORTED BY: United Way International and Shetland Island Council

Since 2007, our zero-interest small loan program has launched over 2,500 businesses in Nagapattinam district, Tamil Nadu. Today, these 2,500 entrepreneurs who have a combined annual income of Rs 75 million ($1,2 million), run businesses such as grocery stores, tailoring, banner painting, carpentry, automobile repair shops and handicrafts. Some of them have gone from having no money initially to owning over Rs 1 lakh ($1,800) in assets today.

We provide seed loans to people at 0% interest to help them buy raw materials and pay vendors. Afterwards, we help them market their products and train them in entrepreneurial skills. We also help them form groups to get bigger loans from banks.

Most of the people we’ve helped are survivors of the 2004 Indian Ocean Tsunami. Fishing is the main occupation here. However, after the tsunami, many fishermen were unable to go back to fishing, having lost their boats or experiencing a drop in the catch since then. Even farmlands were destroyed by the saline waters from the sea.

The program has helped them find new livelihoods and also helped diversify the local economy. Along with fishermen, our loans have also helped agriculture farmers find alternative income during low farm yields. The repayment rate on these loans is over 95%.

Every second of our entrepreneurs is a woman. They have also created jobs for over 3,500 people. We initially started work in 16 villages. Today we are working with 25 villages in the district. The program is supported by United Way International and the UK’s Shetland Island Council Economic Development Unit.

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