Flowers and meal deliveries: how Indians on low incomes use loans to grow
Asha Ashok Bhoite and her husband Ashok Dattatray Bhoite working together in the kitchen to prepare tiffin meals.
Vaishadi Rahul Hingmire and Asha Ashok Bhoite are business owners and clients of Indian credit cooperative Annapurna Mahila Coop Credit Society. We look at how the two women have used loans for the benefit of their businesses and the people around them.
At a roadside flower stall, Vaishadi Rahul Hingmire works with her son, threading together sweet-smelling flowers to produce colourful garlands. Vaishadi knows her trade well – she’s been selling flowers for decades.
Together with her husband, Vaishadi used to run two shops. After the death of her husband in 2016, Vaishadi decided to rent one of the two shops and continues to run the other in collaboration with her son and others.
The floral garlands she makes are put up daily in shops, but the busiest time of year for Vaishadi is August to December. This is when religious festivals like Diwali take place, and Vaishadi’s garlands are used for traditional decoration and worship in temples.
Closing the business to help fight coronavirus
Due to the Covid-19 pandemic and nationwide lockdown in India, Vaishadi’s business had to remain closed from mid-March to the end of July. However, from August, and thanks to the start of the festival season, sales of flower garlands have picked up, and Vaishadi’s business is now in full swing.
Over the years, the income from selling flower garlands has made it possible for Vaishadi to pay for her children’s education and purchase a flat and a plot of land. And Annapurna Mahila Coop Credit Society has been with Vaishadi on this journey.
Vaishadi has been a client of the cooperative for the past 15 years and is now in her 11th loan cycle. Her current loan is for around € 1,500, which she’s invested into expansion of her successful flower business.
Loans for self-employed clients on low incomes
With over 20 branches across Mumbai and Pune, Annapurna Mahila Coop Credit Society offers microcredit and micro savings to people like Vaishadi who are self-employed and on low incomes. Oikocredit entered into partnership with Annapurna Mahila Coop Credit Society in 2017.
The credit cooperative offers a wide range of products and services, such as community-based insurance, subsidised healthcare, and loans to cover the costs of education. Business-owner Asha Ashok Bhoite has also taken advantage of Annapurna Mahila Coop Credit Society’s diverse product offering.
Asha runs a catering company with her husband. Together they prepare delicious meals for breakfast, lunch and dinner, all served in ‘tiffins’, India’s famous steel containers, that the family delivers to 70 regular clients.
Education loans for future growth
Asha’s son helps out with the catering business, but her daughter is at university studying engineering. To finance her studies, the family took an education loan from Annapurna Mahila Coop Credit Society for € 1,650, to be paid back over six years.
The family’s entrepreneurial spirit has led them open a children’s nursery in addition to the catering company. With their stable client base and diversified income, Asha and her family are able to repay the education loan.
While traditional banks may not consider them eligible for credit, more than 68,000 clients like Asha and Vaishadi have chosen to become clients of Annapurna Mahila Coop Credit Society. And Oikocredit supports Annapurna Mahila Coop Credit Society in their mission to empower low-income Indians with this choice.