HELPING THE DESPERATELY POOR TO BECOME ENTREPRENEURS IN INDIA
The Road to Parity has entered a partnership with Indian NGO, Learning Links Foundation, to fight poverty through micro-entrepreneurship.
Under the partnership, people in extreme poverty in India are given the opportunity to set up their own businesses.
It is one-off funding - or assistance with buying the equipment required for a business. This is a life-changing opportunity.
The partners have agreed strict criteria on how candidates for funding should be assessed. The process is supported with the help of outreach workers who operate in slum areas. The fledgling entrepreneurs are given guidance as they embark on their new ventures to ensure they are on the right track.
The first batch of funding was released in 2019 and since then tiny businesses have been gradually emerging in the poorest of areas.
Phoola was among our first beneficiaries and the funding provided enabled her to set up a little street business in Delhi, selling boiled eggs.
The 28-year old can't read or write, and when we came across her in 2019, she was in a desperate situation, working as a domestic helper - and the main breadwinner for a family of six.
Despite this, she bravely came to a community centre in a Delhi slum and pitched her business idea. She was holding a baby that began urinating on the floor as she tried to explain her dream venture. Phoola calmly used the baby's ragged underwear to mop up the puddle created, nipped away to clean up and resumed the meeting as if nothing had happened. She displayed unbelievable resolve.
We asked Phoola to describe in one word what being our first beneficiary meant to her. She said "Unnati," which translates to progress, as she believes her new enterprise will bring prosperity.
Our entrepreneurship programme in India is now called Project Unnati. Phoola's egg stall is just one of many small businesses we've got up and running in the slums of Delhi.
Helping one, benefitting many
While we provide a micro-grant to one person at a time to set up a business, the opportunity changes the fortunes of entire households, which has been as many as 11 people. Here are some of the families who are benefitting from a Project Unnati enterprise.