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 Aarti Kale –
Mrs Kale belongs to a traditional Maharashtrian family and has lived all her life in Pune. She got married at a young age right after passing out from 10th. She found support from her in-laws and decided to study further, passing from 12th standard and started pursuing a law degree through a distance learning program. She took up a job at a factory in Pune and all seemed well for the Kale household until the factory closed down with the promoters filing for bankruptcy. Mrs Kale was forced to drop out of college and then to take up odd jobs to support her husband in managing the household.
Around this time a kind soul took a chance on her and hired her to make rotis(bread) for her family in the morning. Though lacking in skill, Mrs Kale grabbed the opportunity with both hands and soon was making rotis at ten houses, a work that she began at 6 AM and wrapped up at 10 AM.
The rest of the day was spent helping Mrs Jayshree Vaidya (more on her in my next post) in building her food supplies business – Vaidya Gruh Udyog. The engagement helped Mrs Kale hone her business skills setting her for better things to come.It was around 12 years ago that at a family function Mrs Kale heard about Self Help Groups (SHG) and immediately appreciated how the model could help her and like-minded ladies to save and access credit. She dug up a bit more
information and under guidance of ladies that had operated SHGs in the past got a group of ladies together forming her SHG. The group started with 17 ladies with each lady decided to contribute ₹100 each month to the common pool. After a few months when substantial funds were collected, the group loaned money from the pooled funds to its member. The rules being simple – provide funds to the member who needed the most at a nominal interest rate of 12% per annum. The SHG further participated in the bank-linkage scheme and availed credit through the Joint Lending Group model. The group dynamic and trust is such that in 12 years this mini-bank hasn’t seen a single default!
Mrs. Kale feels proud of her group’s achievements and explained that she trusts the members implicitly. She feels that the group has gone through so much together and stayed strong for each other.
The ladies have been part of the group for 12 years and has thus far paid out two dividends of ₹ 800 and ₹3000, taken the members for a outstation picnic and closed the group once after a decade together to repay its members ₹ 19,612 (we have the precise figure since Mrs Kale was the treasurer of the group), on the cumulative investment of ₹12,000 for each member. The group was restarted immediately but this time expanding its membership to 20 members (adding 3 members, the original members continued on) and the monthly contribution to ₹ 200.
Makes one realize how much can be achieved if people trust and work together.
We leave with a simple thought – “Individually, we are a drop. Together, we are an ocean” – Ryunosuke Satoro, Poet.
PS: Mrs Kale cooks vegetarian Maharashtrian cuisine and caters to large events. If you are in Pune do reach out to her at 982238904