An entrepreneurs programme set up to lift people out of extreme poverty has shown it can increase household incomes by up to 120%.
Project Unnati, launched by The Road to Parity in conjunction with Learning Links Foundation in India, provides one-off grants to individuals wanting to start a small business.
The first batch of entrepreneurs launched their new ventures in slum areas of Delhi last year. The businesses were set up with an average grant of 52 pounds (66 USD) and included street stalls selling items, such as vegetables, household goods, dumplings, cosmetics, and snacks.
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The success of the trial comes despite most of the beneficiaries being illiterate and having no prior business experience. The pilot also revealed signs of business agility as one of the entrepreneurs started off selling vegetables and then switched to boiled eggs to better respond to circumstances on the ground.
Jonathan Hill, Founder of The Road to Parity, said: “The results are extremely encouraging and show the model works. Unlike a loan, the one-off grant does not need to be paid back as we feel people who have been in extreme poverty have suffered enough.”
He adds: “However, we make it clear to beneficiaries that this is one-time only financial support. It's an opportunity to transform their lives, become financially independent and escape crippling poverty.”
Project Unnati has been disrupted due to COVID-19, but existing businesses will resume trading and new enterprises will be started as and when conditions allow. In all, seven businesses had been established prior to COVID-19 and were included in the pilot results. A further 13 new enterprises are waiting for conditions to improve to start trading, although one of these, a tailoring business, has been able to begin some work from home.