1. Does the organization promote the practice of any specific religion?
No it doesn’t. AID INDIA has specific policies against discrimination based on caste, creed, or religion. The people benefiting from our programs encompass all the religions of our area, with the majority being Hindu, simply because this is the predominant religion of our district.
2. How does AID INDIA empower people to meet their basic needs (food, shelter, economic sufficiency)?
AID INDIA’s micro-credit program provides over 7000 impoverished women and disabled people with: (1) training in sustainable trade skills (2) starting capital for business ventures (3) guidance through weekly meetings coordinated by volunteers and paid field workers. These programs, as well as leadership and literacy initiatives, create a sustainable and continuing source of income for group members, enabling them to meet their and their family’s basic needs.
3. What is the role of a volunteer?
Over 50 volunteers work with AID INDIA. They are integral to its functions as it is they who create the initial groups in the villages and provide the people with the proper training and education in trade and leadership skills. AID INDIA works in several villages of the deprived Dhalit caste, and many of our volunteers are Dhalits who have returned to help their communities. We also have volunteers from all over the world who stay a couple of weeks or months to help us out in their area of expertise (building an internet site, writing grant proposals, teaching English in the orphanage, giving training to people with disabilities etc). As a small NGO with many clients we are in need of the help of volunteers.
4. How does AID INDIA promote cultural diversity?
As AID INDIA works primarily with women, it helps to empower them to find their voice within their culture and religion (regardless of which religion this is) and promote awareness of their needs, which also empowers other surrounding women to begin the process of claiming control of their lives. This is also true for the people with special needs, widows, and the people of lower castes who benefit from our programs. With the increase in India’s population shifting from rural areas to cities, we aid the protection of rural culture (generally a low-impact, family oriented way of life) by making the living situation feasible again.
5. How long has your organization been providing micro-credit loans?
AID INDIA began the micro-credit program in 1994 by obtaining loans from banks and re-distributing the funds to the members of our Self Help Groups. We give the Self Help Groups skill training and continual weekly support and supervision. Recently, we initiated Grama Vasantham (“Village Prosperity”), a micro-credit program which strives to be an independent micro-credit unit by obtaining the necessary funds and seed capital to establish a continuing source of revolving funds within the program. With the help of our community, small grants, and continued aid from the banks, Grama Vasantham has so far provided over 40 million rupees small business loans since its commencement in April of 2000.
6. What are the procedures for loan disbursement?
Groups are provided with a loan according to the requirements of the group and the unanimous decision of the group. The amount of loan provided to a group depends on the proper functioning of the group and the age of the group. The loan amount given to groups ranges from 50000 rupees to 300000 rupees. The interest is calculated on declining balance and for the convenience of the groups and the program it is again made flat. The normal interest rate is between 10% and 12%. There are also interest free loans to the groups of people with disabilities and groups of widows.
AID INDIA requires the groups to save beyond the repayment of loans. Regular interest rates on loans range from 36% to 150% from banks and private money lenders. The group members are usually unable to receive loans from these facilities as they have no credit history required by banks , and cannot support the crippling interest rates required by private money lenders. We charge (reasonable) interest rates on all loans to prepare the borrowers for the commercial world should their enterprise get big enough to participate in the formal business sector. As well, these funds provide new loans and help sustain the organization.
7. Does your organization provide skill training programs for Grama Vasantham Self Help Group members?
All Grama Vasantham groups undergo a training course on the principles, process, and benefits of the program, and must satisfy the staff that they have understood principles properly. Besides that, AID INDIA offers the Self Help Groups’ skill-, finance- and leadership training. AID INDIA has a small building near the head office which is used for giving training; here we have the necessary equipment such as sewing machines. Many of the women already have skills which can be put to commercial use. They only need finance and leadership training to make their new business a success. Other women don’t have any skill knowledge so we provide those women skill training. Training in tailoring, embroidery and basket making are the most given trainings. The building where we give trainings is also used for meetings. Here members of different groups meet to discuss issues that affect all groups, and draft amendments to be voted on in a democratic manner.
8. What is the nature of training received by the employees?
All AID INDIA staff members are either Higher Secondary candidates or graduates and have been educated in Micro-credit principles according to the present model. They all know the Grameen Bank model. Many come from specific social work backgrounds that encompass many issues (such as child labour and women’s development) and use their knowledge and experience to educate fellow employees in these areas. The General Secretary, who studied directly with Professor Mohamed Yunus at the Grameen Trust in Bangladesh, attended many Self-Help Group Bank Linkage Programs and has attended many national and international seminars under various organizations provides the staff with continuous teaching and training throughout the year.
9. What are some specific examples of actual loans in use?
- Esther who lives in Nedungulam took a loan of Rs 2000/- and purchased 4 small goats. Now the value of the goats is more than Rs 6000/-. They will be sold at the minimum rate of Rs 7000/-
- Maria who lives in Savarial took a loan of Rs 2000/- and purchased a sewing machine. She stitches dresses for women and children in the area, and has an average income of Rs 40 per day.
- Valli who lives in Satankulam took a loan of Rs 2000/- for basket making and has an average income of Rs 40/- per day.
- Sudalaikali who lives in Alagammanpuram took a loan of Rs 2000/- for dry fish vending and has a an average income of Rs 30/- per day
- Thangapushpam who lives in Gandhinagar took a loan of Rs 2000/- and has an average income of Rs 25 per day by making baskets.