It was two years ago that Jayaram, one of the best trainers of Buzz, delivered his training to the of women in Arekere village, Tumkur district, Karnataka. Recently, Jayaram went back to the village to enquire how the women are doing post the Buzz training. “Namma Jayaram Sir, bandhidhare!”, our Jayaram Sir has come – excitement filled in the air as the women he trained started gathering around him. They had many things to share with him – and among them was a story that Jayaram, Buzz and Citi Foundation that funded the initiative will cherish forever.
From among the women who attended the training, a group of 19 women got together and started an SHG group. The most heartwarming part of it is that they decided to name their SHG as Buzz India Sangha. It’s a rare joy, to know someone thought of giving your name to something they value.
Buzz Sangha women with our trainer Jayaram
Savithrama, one of the key founders of the SHG group says, “Jayaram Sir delivered the training in such a way that the knowledge got deeply etched in our minds. Also, he got to ponder that we women shouldn’t anymore confine our lives to the kitchen, cooking, cleaning and washing clothes. We felt that there is more to our lives. That’s when we decided to start something valuable of our own. We met, discussed what could be done and thought that we all needed to start saving money as a collective. We decided that starting a Sangha (SHG group) will be a good idea. The next thought was what do we name the Sangha and we unanimously decided that we will name the Sangha as Buzz India Sangha. It was Jayaram Sir who inspired us to do something on our own and we wanted to show our gratitude.”
Before this Sangha was formed, the women were caught in the loop of borrowing money on high interest rates, struggling to repay the loan and ending up taking more loans to repay these loans. When they needed money urgently for an unexpected medical expense or to pay the fees of their children, they had nowhere to go to. Now the Sangha is their go-to place. They find great peace of mind in knowing that they have a financial security system in place that they can trust and is their own. “Earlier we used to join multiple SHG groups, paying exorbitant interest rates. We were paying up to 10% interest per month for the loans we took from these groups. Since we started saving with the Sangha, we all systematically relieved ourselves from our other debts. Now we are saving money here in our group and lending it out to each other for an interest rate of just 2% per month”, says Savithramma.
This SHG Sangha has been working efficiently for the past one year and eight months. From the 19-member strength at the time of conception, they’re now a 25-member strong group. Each woman can take a lumpsum amount from the Sangha for her personal needs and they repay the loan to the Sangha with a small interest of 2% per month. Totally they have saved Rs. 52,500, with a per member saving of Rs 2100. They collected Rs 12,272 as interest from the loans given to the members.
With the amount taken from the Sangha, Mahadevamma started a small hotel business that sells bajji and bonda. She also managed to repair her house. Sharada bought an auto for her husband. Like this, every woman here is achieving their goals, with the support of a group of women like her.
And there are other subtler changes beyond financial freedom as well. Bhagyamma, who was confined to her household chores earlier, is today the bookkeeper of the Sangha. She says, “Though I speak a lot at home, I was extremely shy to speak in front of a group of people. Now, though I still have some fear, I manage to stand in front of people and talk. I never thought I would change like this. I now dream of starting something on my own and employing other women”.
Watch: Savitramma shares how they started the Buzz Sangha
Jayaram, Buzz’s trainer, observes, “The success of the SHG is not just about their commitment, but also the meticulousness with which they run it. They have rules in place which they strictly adhere to, they are religious about repaying the money without fail, and they genuinely care for each other’s needs. These women are true role models”.
Buzz Sangha is very popular in their village. The women constantly get requests from other women to join their group but they are cautious about taking in too many people into the group as of now. But in the long run, they want to make their Sangha accessible to as many women as possible and establish it like a Mahila Bank, a women’s bank.