Hirsh Cashdan, Tzedek’s Overseas Projects Team’s Chair, was delighted to visit in October a few of our partners in Bihar, India. He had a great opportunity to visit our beneficiaries and see how they’re doing.

Our current partner BOARD is now running a micro-credit project for 310 beneficiaries. BOARD’s local office in Fatuha – a town some 25 kilometers east of Patna is very small but populated by several staff members in the front room. In the back room were 4 girls seated at computers practicing skills under the supervision of a temporary computer tutor.  Three groups come there 6 days per week and they have 1.5 hours each.  They began in August and run through to January.  One was learning about Power Point, others were doing basic typing.  The teaching booklet seemed OK but their skills as yet were not very advanced.

They showed us the microcredit books – full record of loans issued (thumbprints where signatures were not possible and photos) and separate records of repayment receipts (1.25% interest per month – 15% per annum).  All was orderly and there were no defaults on the loans.

We then went to Fatuha market to meet some of the 60 microcredit loan beneficiaries.  By the railway track was Minha Devi with three baskets of coconuts for sale.  She has received a loan of 20,000 Rupees.  she goes in to Patna daily between 4 and 5am to collect her supply, sets up her stall between 7 and 8 am.  This pattern is repeated 7 days per week and she makes 200-300 rupees income per day.  Next the sweet stall of Rita Devi helped by her son where they earn 200-250 per day.  Then to a fancy goods shop . Here the loan was taken out by Kamla Devis.  They pay 1000 rupees per month rent for the stall and earn 300-400 rupees per day. Next to the clothing stall of Malo Devi who had taken a loan of 15,000 rupees.  She buys some goods in Kolkata where she goes every couple of weeks (they are cheaper there) and the rest from Patna where she goes weekly.  The stall rent and stock together costs 50,000 rupees per annum.  She is open (as they all seem to be) 7 days per week and earns around 10,000 rupees per month.  The balance of her investment came from family members. Several of the women showed us their loan repayment books which were orderly and showed their weekly payments up to date.