The Road to Parity has provided funding to its first batch of entrepreneurs, setting them on a path to break free from extreme poverty.
The new micro-enterprises in a Delhi slum include stalls selling vegetables, boiled eggs, snacks, household goods and cosmetics.
The entrepreneurs have been provided with start-up funding to buy equipment and supplies. Each business cost around 50 pounds (63 USD) to set up.
The Road to Parity, along with its partner in India, Learning Links Foundation, devised strict criteria to identify the
poorest of the poor and most vulnerable.
This included looking at the per head household income, the size of the household, the number relying on the sole breadwinner and level of education. Priority has also been given to female entrepreneurs and those with disabilities.
“This is a very tough call. Of course, you can’t help everyone, and you need to make sure that the people being selected are the most in need,’’ said Jonathan Hill, Founder and Chairman of The Road to Parity. “One of the things we discovered when we were assessing families is that some were living on less than 10 pounds (12.5 USD) per person per month. This is heartbreaking and we want to try to help as many of these people as we can.”
Before the initiative, the beneficiaries would generally be scraping a living from intermittent or very low paid labour.
The financial support is provided as a micro-grant, and unlike a loan does not need to be paid back. However, it is monitored and will likely be the recipients’ only chance to get out of poverty.
28-year old Phoola was in a desperate situation, working as a domestic helper and supporting a family of six, when she was identified for funding to set up a boiled egg stall.
Phoola, who is illiterate, was asked to describe in a word what it meant to her being the first beneficiary under the micro-entrepreneurship programme.
She said “Unnati,” which means progress, as she believes the start-up money she’s been given will bring prosperity. The programme in India is now called Project Unnati.