Power of the group: Story of Mrs. Lonkar

In the age of a digitally connected populace it is often difficult to comprehend the value of true human engagement and relationship. Finlok at its core is really about leveraging the power of a group in unlocking financial opportunities for its members. In our journey, as we evolved the platform design we spent a lot of time interacting with communities to understand their behavior with respect to money and money matters. In the modern age it is said that one shouldn’t mix friendship and money; the realities on the ground are actually exactly the reverse. Depending on friends and rallying with them is a  proven way of achieving financial independence.

During our interactions we met some incredible people and through this series we attempt to take a peek into their lives and understand how they have used the power of the group to improve their lives and finances.

Story of Mrs Anuradha lonkar -

Mrs Lonkar’s story is one of hardwork determination, evolving a business to opportunities and leveraging the power of the group. Mrs Lonkar lived a sheltered life in a traditional Maharashtrian family being a stay at home mother to her three children. This happy life was however turned upside down when 17 years ago Mrs Lonkar’s husband passed away. With a young family to support and having never held a job, it would be an understatement to say Mrs Lonkar than 40 years old, was in a difficult situation. Mrs Lonkar was however skilled in stitching and knitting; these along with her grit and hard work helped her in supporting her family.

At the time the tragedy struck the family; Mrs Lonkar started sourcing stitching assignments from garment businesses where she was paid per piece she produced. She worked on her skill and the steady stream of work allowed her to support her family. Being ever resourceful, Mrs Lonkar identified an opportunity for winter wear for the growing population of Pune. To meet the tastes of a diverse city with inhabitants from all over India; prior to the winter season she made annual trips to Punjab to stock up on the latest winter wear and sell direct in exhibitions and trade fairs. She says that she has been doing this for 15 years and has done exhibitions all over Pune and Lonavala. She has many interesting stories to relate about her trade; starting from the “jugaad” to bring the large packs of produce in the train. Of finding a contact in Punjab who now ships her the produce for a small commission. She says however that she still personally makes the trip to Punjab to ensure that she be able to select the best produce for herself. The business has grown now so one her children accompanies her on this 7 day trek. She advises that travel takes nearly 4 days so she does all of her annual sourcing in 3 days; which basically means that she must be on boosters throughout the period!

Around 12 years ago she was introduced to the SHG concept by a friend. She was immediately drawn to the concept of forced saving and access to credit when needed. She signed up starting with a monthly contribution of ₹100. This close knit group literally gave her wings to fly. She advised that while the financial support towards business expansions and personal large expenses were a big help. The bigger help was the platform that the model gave her to develop her skills and business. The group organized multiple exhibitions and fairs where she met and sold to likeminded women. All these allowed her to hone her skills as well as build networks that held her in good stead as she expanded her business.

About 3 years ago a shop became available in her locality and a small loan from her SHG helped her set-up a ladies clothes shop. This allowed her to remove the seasonal dependency. She underwent a training program and learnt designing and making fancy sweaters.

At present her business is running well and she employs 4 ladies.

Her journey has been long but one in which she clearly takes a lot of pride. She has been part of her SHG for more than 12 years ago; and she explains that her group has really helped her improve her life. In all these years there have been no loan default and the group takes great pride in supporting each other through life’s challenges.

Makes one realize how much can be achieved if people trust and work together.

We leave with a simple thought – “There is more power in unity than division” – Emanuel Cleaver

PS: You can visit Mrs Lonkar at her shop in Bibvewadi or reach out to her at 9371210389

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