Kotalipara Development Society works in 9 districts of West Bengal.
The lack of funds can abort many a rural dream to start a venture. Kotalipara Development Society (KDS) tries to address this need.
Established in 1991, KDS is a micro-finance institution (MFI) which aims to eradicate poverty. It provides technical and financial assistance to rural women to help them establish their identity.
Najima, a 25-year-old woman from West Bengal, came to know about KDS from a neighbour. A school drop-out and hailing from a poor family, she found poverty stalking her even after marriage.
“When I came to know about KDS from a neighbour, I approached it for financial support. I wanted to earn enough money to support my family,” she said.
Najima took a loan of Rs 3,000 to buy a sewing machine from KDS. She had to deposit Rs 300 while taking the loan and had to pay Rs 75 per week till she repaid the entire sum.
“I have borrowed money four times from KDS to expand my business. The last time I borrowed Rs 15,000,” she said. Najima formed a group of 30 women and supported them in their ventures. “All these women could study only till primary or middle school but are now earning enough to make both ends meet,” she said.
Similar was the situation of Purnima, a 38-year-old woman from the same village.
She received only primary education and had to discontinue due to financial constraints.
“I make saris. But when I started off I had no money to buy fabrics or sewing machines. I borrowed Rs 5000 from KDS. I paid Rs 125 every week till I repaid the entire amount,” Purnima said.
Initially she formed a group of 10 members, but with the organisation’s financial support, her group grew to 28 members, who make saris and run grocery shops.
GC Baidya, secretary, KDS, said, “We first identify self-help groups of poor women through informal village surveys. We help women who do not possess more than 50 decimal of land and do not have monthly family income of more than Rs 2,500 in rural areas.”
KDS, at present, is working in 9 districts of West Bengal — North 24 Parganas, South 24 Parganas, Nadia, Hooghly, Kolkata, Murshidabad, Bahrampur, Howrah and Burdwan.
It has also extended its micro-credit support services through promotion and stabilisation of self-help groups in 62 blocks and has 103 branch offices.
“One can take loans for activities such as zari embroidery, mat making, tailoring, knitting, weaving, jute making, food processing, cycle repairing, silk screen printing, fish vending, vegetable vending, handicrafts, shoe making, cloth printing, kantha work, and radio and TV repairing,” Baidya said.
KDS takes loans from ICICI Bank, Small Industries Development Bank of India, Friends of Women’s World Banking, Rashtriya Mahila Kosh, United Bank of India, UTI Bank, West Bengal Minority Development Finance Corporation, Indian Bank, HDFC Bank, and ABN Ambro. All of them charge interest rates between 5 and 11 per cent per annum.