Start a Dalit business
Caste. This 3,000 year old hierarchical system divides Indian life based on traditional occupations and heritage. While a portion of India’s economy thrives, 250 million Dalits remain isolated in an “untouchable” world of modern day slavery. The Dalits are literally out-castes, receiving little or no education, few employment opportunities, and denied access to medical clinics. In a desperate search for a way out of the hand-to-mouth cycle, many end up in bonded labor for a lifetime.
This gift makes it possible for a Dalit in a self-help group sponsored by the Dalit Freedom Network (DFN) to receive a small loan to start a business. Loan recipients develop a reliable source of income and gain self-respect and dignity by repaying the amount. Plus, as the loan is paid back with a fair interest rate, another group member may receive funding. When Sabita’s husband died recently, she struggled to manage with sporadic income from manual labor jobs. She joined a DFN sponsored Self-Help group with 19 other women and after faithfully contributing to the group’s savings for a year, she was granted a loan to buy 20 chicks. The chicks are a source of regular income, and as she pays on the loan another group member will benefit. Through gifts like this, Dalits find the accountability and resources needed to provide for their families with dignity and hope. Micro-loans are an important part of achieving DFN’s goals of holistic community transformation in Indian villages so that Dalits may live free of caste oppression.