A reflective learning on the Rickshaw Bank project:
The study was done considering different aspects of the project like institutional development, micro-lending, micro-insurance, daily earning & saving etc. of the members. It is done amongst hundred members of the Rickshaw Bank who have already owned their asset in Guwahati during the period 2007-2009. A simple questionnaire was used on random basis to know the status of enhancement of livelihood of the members. Here is a brief finding of the study presented as below
Institution Building i.e. organizing the poor into a self-managed people’s institute is the most interesting part of the programme. Self-regulation in meeting, decision-making, lending, repayment etc. is some important features that need to be worked for each group in a phased manner. It is really tremendous to see the group members showing initial resistance for a change and gradually acquiring all those features and evolving a self-managed group. While streamlining the groups, cluster etc. into a full-fledged matured institute, peer learning and peer pressure do contribute a lot under the disciplined association of a Field Collector and Branch Coordinator. Besides, homogeneity and affinity act as major cementing force amongst the member. The toughest work is the effective leadership which needs special care to be groomed up eventually. Many a groups stumble on their way because of lack of effective leader. It is very hard-hitting to select out leaders and groom them up with some idealistic inputs. The job is also really toiling for a poor ordinary man to evolve himself as a leader amongst a few men with rare homogenous background. Above all, it’s the effective communication and exchange of ideas, thoughts amongst the members that enhance the group’s cohesiveness. Despite all the toughs and odds, the poor members who are more keen on their part can be groomed well with the sole aim of crossing the line of poverty. All this needs patience, mingling with the poor and listening to their heart only.
Lending to members of the groups for other household consumption such food, health, education, ritual etc. and old debt redemption is very significant aspect of the programme. Herein, no internal lending is done; instead the micro-finance institute cares for this. Nevertheless, it becomes the toughest job on the part of the project team to evolve lending policies for the rickshaw pullers. The range of lending to the rickshaw pullers under the Micro-finance facility extends from Rs. 2,000/- Rs. 50,000/-. Most of the loans taken upto Rs. 2,000/- are used for consumption purpose such as purchasing food materials, household utensils, medicines, admission fees for kids etc. A few loan that amounts equal to or more than Rs. 5,000/- has been also disbursed for renovation of house, redemption of old loan. In lending and repayment, collective decision making and peer pressure are two prominent factors that facilitate the whole process.
During the period April-September 2009, a total of Rs. 1.41 lakh been disbursed to 25 nos. of rickshaw pullers. There is enormous demand from the members of the Rickshaw Bank for small loan; CRD needs a good support in this line.
Though it is very difficult to convince the poor to go for insurance, yet we have been doing well with our micro-insurance in association with the United India Insurance Company Ltd. During this period, 115 nos. of Rickshaw pullers have been covered under the insurance.
Daily Earning and Saving:
There is a significant change in the earning of the Rickshaw Bank members in comparison to that of their previous occupation. This happens because of the passenger-convenient tricycle model, attractive design of the model, cordial relationship of the rickshaw pullers. In Guwahati city, the pullers are earning Rs. 250 on an average per day. The highest earning goes up to Rs. 350 per day and lowest earning is Rs. 150 per day. While in small Town area like Morigaon, Mirza, Nalbari area; the average earning per day is Rs. 200. While comparing with their traditional rickshaw there is at least rise of average earning by Rs. 100 per day. This enhanced earning has increased their family budget in different heads like food, clothing etc. They have also been able to save an amount out of their daily earning. Some members in Nalbari, Mirza, Morigaon area have also joined Self-Help Groups (SHGs) from their locality. The wives of the rickshaw pullers are also made aware of saving for their future.