“The women belonging to the poor households feel hesitant to go and visit public arenas. They are wary of going to the nearest bank branch for any monetary transaction. Most of these women are illiterate and as a result, they need someone educated with them whenever they wish to withdraw or deposit money,” says Kailash Verma Chairperson of Women’s Credit Cooperative.
In the year 2000, Women’s Credit Cooperative (WCC) was formed as a micro-finance institution, with initial membership worth Rs 2000. WCC was started with the aim to provide monetary help to poor women and that is one thing that makes them stand out as well.
They take in members with a small registration and with the money that is collected, they give out loans to the ones in need at an interest rate which is considerably lower than any bank. It is not heavy on the pocket of the poor and keeps these women occupied as well.
In June 2006, it got registered with the State Government and by January 2008, its branches were opened, the first one being in Marh.
After the opening of the first two branches, elections were held within the organization and a board was elected with nearly 350 members. From 2009 on wards, the organization started expanding. By 2012, an act was passed according to which one woman was appointed as the delegate for 100 women under her, this was done in order to bring some structure. Since then, annual General Body meetings are held among the delegates only. The Society has now 37 branches with more than 300 employees.
The organisation, till date. has provided loan worth 7.5 Crores. According to the Chairperson, the organisation is working under NABARD and Grameen Bank. Self-help Groups are also being organised.
On the directions of the Chairperson of the Women Credit Cooperative Society, Kailash Verma, of providing 50 memberships, Meenakshi Chib, who now heads a separate office branch in Paloura, was attached to the Head Office in Bakshi Nagar as the Field Assistant initially. She was given a target of enrolling 100 new members before she could manage on her own.
In 2012, Meenakshi along with few other members opened a new branch in Paloura. The initial response to the scheme was particularly low, because the majority of the population didn’t know how they worked. More so, many feared of it being a fraud. But as soon as the local women were given more and more loans easily with comparable and even lesser interest rates, the organisation started flourishing. Her office now has 5 field workers and three officers in-charge, including her.
As per the current status of the Cooperative Society’s office at Paloura has provided loans worth 19 Lakhs and that too without any help from the Government. The workers of the organisation are paid very modestly. The branch head is paid 1200, while the assistant is given 1000, and the field officers are given 500 each. The interest that the firm earns after providing people with loans, is the salary for its workers.
The field offices in every branch, go door-to-door and collect their savings, which are then deposited in the branch’s head office.
Meenakshi insists that in recent times, when the Public and Private sector Banks have come up with so much to help the underprivileged, this scheme in particular will help women, who fail to get education. It is a platform for housewives who wish to save money for times of need.
The organization creates awareness by setting up camps once a month and detailed information is provided to them. Since its an All-Women show, the disadvantaged ladies feel safe and comfortable sharing their problems and explaining their reasons for application of loan.
In defaulter cases, where the client after taking the loan fails to fill in the monthly installment, the branch head along with field officers go in to make the recovery.
The Branch Head has urged the Government to recognize their organization and convert it into a bank, which would in turn help the hapless women. According to the Chairperson, Kailash Verma, the women of the society need to be uplifted in order for the society to move on the path of evolution.