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					April 2011                                                       

Asha Berkeley Newsletter
                 Volume 1 Issue 3 April 2011

                                                 Members of the Samrudhi microfinance society with their small businesses

Microfinance Society Provides Credit to Women in Karnataka
To learn more or donate to this project visit

By Devdatta Akhawe

         Banking in India is a luxury for the upwardly mobile. A savings account in India requires proof of identity
and proof of residence. It is not surprising, then, that financial services are essentially non-existent for the urban
poor, and even more so for the rural poor. Talk about credit, and the situation is even more acute. But paradoxically,
reliable credit is necessary for upward mobility, whether it is a small loan to tide over an unexpected crisis, or a loan
to start a small business. A model that has achieved considerable success in the most developing countries is that of
a micro-finance society providing small (i.e. micro) loans to the poor with no collateral.
         Samrudhi Microfinance Society aims to replicate this microcredit model for the rural and urban poor,
especially women, of the Gulbarga District of Karnataka, India. Samrudhi focuses on providing micro-credits to
women for multiple reasons. In addition to being caregivers and providers, women often are more trustworthy.
Samrudhi doesn’t require any collateral from the borrower and offers just interest rates. For example, Devaki, a
vegetable vendor, used to borrow from the local money lender at the exorbitant rate of 180% per year. Samrudhi
Microfinance Society currently offers her credit at around 20% per year, allowing her to keep more of her profits.
         Asha Berkeley has been funding the salary of Sanju Kumar, the Founder and CEO of Samrudhi
Microfinance Society, for the past two years. Our main goal is to support him until Samrudhi achieves financial
sustainability and is able to pay his salary without our help. We are glad to note that Samrudhi is on track to achieve
                                                         this important milestone in the next 18 months. Samrudhi
                                                         has secured loans from financial organizations like SIDBI,
                                                         Syndicate Bank and IDF. Asha Berkeley has recently sent
                                                         around USD $3894 for Sanju Kumar’s salary for 2011.

                                                        In this Issue:
                                                       From the Roots: A perspective from the founder of
                                                       Samrudhi Microfinance Society Pg 4
                                                       Event Recap: Asha Berkeley’s Screening of the documentary,
                                                       Stolen Childhoods Pg 2
                                                       Rotary Cupertino partners with village in Kerala Pg 3
Members of the Samrudhi Microfinance Society form      Get involved with Asha for Education Berkeley Pg 2
groups of 20-25 women                                  Donate to Asha for Education Pg 2
April 2011                                                      

Documentary Screening Raises Awareness of Child Labor
                                               By Abhinaya Narayanan

                                                          Asha for Education is one of the world’s leading non-profit
                                                 organizations and is committed to providing basic educational
                                                 services for the children of India. Yet as Asha expands, there remain
                                                 inherent barriers to its progress, the most pressing concern of which
                                                 is the persistence of child labor.
                                                          Though slavery has technically been abolished worldwide,
                                                 slavery of our most vulnerable population persists in the form of
                                                 child labor. Indeed, child laborers provide the driving force between
                                                 much of the world’s production. 240 million children work full time
                                                 and do not attend school. Children are often forced into a life of
                                                 work and they cannot fight back when they are used and abused. On
                                                 March 4, 2011, in order to raise awareness about this unconscionable
                                                 human rights violation and the power of education to resolve the
                                                 problem, Asha Berkeley presented a free public screening of the
                                                 acclaimed documentary, Stolen Childhoods.
                                                           Directed by Leonard Morris, Stolen Childhoods was the first
                                                 feature length film that explored the prevalence of child labor around
                                                 the world and was selected for the United Nations Film Festival. The
                                                 event was attended by individuals from UC Berkeley and from the
                                                 larger community and opened the eyes of the audience to how the
cycle of poverty is perpetuated by child labor. Though the film was sobering, the takeaway message was uplifting:
education is the single most powerful weapon against child labor.
        Education stops the cycle of child labor because it empowers individuals and communities. It opens their
eyes to their options to achieve success and reveals possibilities they never conceived, providing an alternative to
labor. The film emphasized that it makes true economic sense to invest in the human capital of children, and that
means investing in their education.
        Asha Berkeley supports innovative educational schemes that prevent child labor. For example, Guria, a
school and shelter in the red light district of Varanasi, is a project that provides the children of sex workers a safe
haven, as well as a meaningful, applicable education that prepares them for government schools and allows them to
break free from second-generation prostitution.
        The film screening thus not only exposed the viewers to this global issue, but also to the work of Asha and
the crucial role that organizations like ours play in effecting meaningful change, helping to make Asha for Education
a more prominent organization in the Bay Area. The success of the event has prompted the Asha Berkeley chapter
to hold similar film screenings every semester so that we can continue to raise awareness about development issues
connected to access to basic education in India.
              Donate to Asha:                                               Get Involved:
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        c/o ASUC Office of Student Affairs              and other ways to get involved.
              University of California
           400 Eshleman Hall, MC 4500
             Berkeley, CA 94720-4500
April 2011                                                    

    Transforming lives through
       the provision of goats

By Savita Vaidhyanathan

        In the picturesque state of Kerala in Southern India, the Rotary Club of Cupertino has partnered with
the Rotary Club of Tiruvalla in a matching grant to help rural women start small goat raising businesses. It is an
innovative concept, based on the principles of micro-credit financing, but without the exchange of currency. The
asset consists of a goat!
        The project operates on the principle that if the woman returns “interest” on the loan while keeping the
“principal” the loan is considered paid! Each woman who receives a goat is expected to rear the goat, reap the
benefits, and then “pay it forward” by providing a female kid to another woman. Initially, the grant provided goats
to about 150 women. The female kid born to these goats will benefit another
150 women. In this way the club hopes to positively impact the lives of at least
300 women and their families with this goat program over a two year period.
                                                                                  Selling milk,
        The women will receive training and support to keep the animals           selling excess
healthy and productive. For these rural women, rearing goats is a way to earn
a livelihood and supplement their family’s income. Goats generally live 10-12     goats, and using
years. The women need little space and fodder to keep the goats, and they can
use the milk for their family and/or sell the milk. The milk is in great demand.
                                                                                  the goat manure
Selling milk, selling excess goats, and using the goat manure are expected to     are expected to
provide a reasonable income to the women recipients. This is the one of great
advantages of this project.                                                       provide a reason-
        The goats are owned by a self-help group (“co-op”) containing the
                                  women beneficiaries as members. The initial
                                                                                  able income to
The club hopes to                 recipient of a goat must return a female kid to the women recipi-
                                 the coop, and it is at that time that they become
positively impact                the owner of the goat. Bodhana, a social-        ents.
                                 service organization developed by the Rotary
the lives of at                  club of Tiruvella, will assist in this project by
least 300 women                  training and educating the women, and keep records of goats supplied. Bodhana
                                 will also assist Rotarians in following up with the women receiving goats to
and their fami-                  ensure a female kid is returned to the co-op to be given to another woman. The
                                 goats are insured via an insurance company fully owned by the government of
lies with this pro-              India. If in the first year, a goat dies, the money from the insurance company will
gram over a two                  buy another goat which will be given back to the same recipient.
                                         The cost of a goat including transportation and insurance was estimated
year period.                     based on exchange rates actual cost may vary. The average cost is expected to be
                                   US $60 per goat including transportation and insurance.
April 2011                                                       

                   Sanju Kumar, the Founder of Samru-
  From the Roots   dhi Microfinance Society on providing
                   credit to the urban and rural poor
                       Samrudhi is a social enterprise that provides cost-effective, livelihood-based financial services
              to rural and urban low-income households. Samrudhi’s goal is to provide small and collateral-free
              micro loans to poor women at their doorstep for income generating activities.
                       About 87% of the poorest households do not have access to credit. If poor people can access
              low interest credit during times of crisis, they can avoid falling into the debt trap. But bureaucracy
              and corruption often prevent these people from accessing credit from banks and the government.
              Instead, the poor take out loans during crisis periods from moneylenders who charge exploitative
              interest rates – often as high as 72%-350% per year – putting them in a debt trap and allowing them
              to fall into a vicious cycle of “low income, low savings, low investment.”
                       To reverse this age-old vicious cycle into an expanding system of “low income, injection of
              credit for investment, more income, more investment, more income,” Samrudhi provides low-cost,
              collateral-free loans to the poor to take up income generating activities.
                       Samrudhi follows a group formation, individual lending approach. A group of 20-25 members
              is formed and group meetings are held weekly. Upon being a member for two successive weeks,
              one becomes eligible to apply for individually disbursed loans, with weekly installments paid at the
              group meeting. Samrudhi exclusively works with
women because women are often the most marginalized and
tend to use resources more productively than men, ensuring the
empowerment of the whole family.
                                                                       Moneylenders often
        Samrudhi has disbursed more than INR 12 million ($0.27         charge exploitative in-
million) to 2000 women in the villages and slums of Gulbarga. The
micro loans have enabled these families to have better livelihood      terest rates as high at
options, increase & diversify incomes, build assets, mitigate risk,
plan for the future, make choices, increase food consumption,          72% to 350% per year
                                                   and invest in
Samrudhi has disbursed                            health, housing, water, and sanitation.
                                                         Recently, Samrudhi has initiated two new projects,
loans to 2000 women in                            ‘Livelihood Promotion through Integrated Farming System (IFS)’
the village and slums                             and ‘Health & Livelihood,’a low cost sanitary napkin project.
                                                         Through ‘Livelihood Promotion through Integrated Farming
of Gulbarga                                       System (IFS),’ farmers are educated on IFS technology to utilize
                                                   available natural resources effectively in order to maximize
                                                    productivity. ‘Health & Livelihood-A low cost sanitary napkin
                                                   project,’ has a twofold effect on the
beneficiaries; a hygienic intervention combined with livelihood activities for the                Editorial Board:
women & school girls. The objectives of the project are to change the behavior of Editor-in-chief – Neha Jain
women and adolescent girls so that they use sanitary napkins instead of dirty and Managing Editor – Lakshmi
unhygienic rags during menses, to have women produce quality sanitary napkins
thereby enhancing their income, to market them through the existing women self-
                                                                                            Design Editor – Shilpa Mohan
help groups, and to to develop group enterprises of women.
                                                                        -Sanju Kumar          Senior Editor – Milla Nizar
To learn more or donate to this project visit http://www.
                                                                                            Submissions Editor – Suchitha