Soft loans to cheer fisher women affected by COVID-19 in south Indian state of Kerala

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Monday, 17 August 2020 11:24

With the Covid-19 pandemic affecting

the livelihood of fisherwomen, the fisheries department of the south Indian state of Kerala has formed plans to revive their small businesses through institutional credit.

Kerala Bank will offer revolving funds and working capital to women groups who are often had to depend on high-interest rates charged by private lenders. The funds will be channeled through Society for Assistance to Fisherwomen (SAF).

To begin with, 1000 fisherwomen in Kollam and Alappuzha will get the revolving fund of Rs 10,000 each. They have been divided into 200 liability groups consisting of five members. Each group will get Rs 50,000 which they can use for fish sales or similar activities. "The fund given is free of interest and the group members get adequate time to return it," said executive director of SAF.

According to her, the scheme will be extended to fisherwomen in Thiruvananthapuram and Ernakulam also by the end of this year. The members are encouraged to pay back on time with more money from the revolving fund. The beneficiaries are also eligible for long term credit and Kisan Credit Card. Fisheries minister J Mercykutty Amma will inaugurate the project named 3R - Rebuilding, Revival, and Reforms. The aid comes as a major boon for the fisher women as the interest rates charged on loans by loan sharks are often exorbitant.

For every Rs 900 given in the morning, the fisherwomen must pay Rs 1000 by the evening. According to Central Marine Fisheries Research Institute (CMFRI) there are around 20,000 fisherwomen directly involved in fish mongering while an additional 30,000 are working in allied activities. SAF has also made deal with Kerala Bank to extend loans for alternative livelihood projects undertaken by women from the community. The bank has agreed to offer will offer soft loans worth Rs 5 crore to around 500 ventures.

According to her 50 percent of the ventures started using the grants given by SAF have survived. It assumes significance as the national average is just 20 percent. There are around 1500 ventures such as fish kiosks, dry fish units, eateries, tailoring units, even medical labs by the women.

Source: New Indian Express

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