Today, we had the opportunity to visit Ujjivan—a microfinance company that gives small loans to women in India. I came into the experience knowing little about microfinance other than the fact that the loans usually range from $100-$1000. I had heard this in the past and wondered what someone could possibly do with what seemed like such a small amount of money in the grand scheme of a business. Today, I found out and was pleasantly surprised and inspired how much it can contribute.
We started out at the Ujjivan offices where some of the employees gave us a presentation and explained their loan process. Just like everyone has been in India, they were extremely welcoming and friendly. I could tell that they were really passionate and proud about the loans that they were able to give to the women to help the community. After the presentation, we took rickshaws (an added bonus to the day!) to the homes of some of the women who are borrowing from Ujjivan. They welcomed us into their living quarters and answered our questions about their professions, the loans and how they have been able to grow their businesses thanks to Ujjivan. From seamstresses to beauticians, the women had all used the loan opportunity to become more profitable, pay for their children’s schoolbooks and live a better life. I was really inspired by how resourceful and ambitious they were, and in only a few hours I went from not knowing anything about microfinance to wanting to work with it to help more small entrepreneurs succeed.