For Rajkali, Rojiroti loans have meant protection from discrimination and hunger and a steady climb toward financial stability.
Rajkali joined group #236 in February 2009 and has taken six loans from her groups savings fund and one larger loan from Rojiroti.
Rajkalis most recent loan was for 3,000 rupees (US$65; £40), which went toward the purchase of a personal tubewell. Rajkali is a member of the scheduled caste, and sharing other villagers hand pumps can be very challenging if not impossible. Higher caste members will not share or accept food and water from scheduled caste members. Rajkali had to travel a long distance in the dark to collect water at the village pump, and she risked beatings once she got there.
Her new pump is a tremendous family asset. Her livestock, and therefore income, depend on it. Rajkali is rearing a buffalo on a share basis and owns several pigs. She hopes to purchase the buffalo outright soon. When she joined the group she had one pig, but with the well she has increased her herd to six.
Rajkali said purchasing her own tubewell would have been unthinkable without the help of a Rojiroti loan to cover a large portion of the cost.
Rajkali started with smaller loans. Her first was for 100 rupees ($2; £1.30) to purchase kerosene oil, rice, spices, and vegetables. If she had not had the access to group credit for this 100 rupee loan, Rajkalis words were literally I would have eaten half a stomachs worth of food.
Her involvement with Rojiroti has had social impacts, as well. In the past few seasons, poor monsoons have hurt Rajkalis harvests. But the empowerment she has gained through the group has allowed her to better negotiate with the landowner from whom she leases land. Recently, she convinced the landowner to split the poor harvest 50/50, instead of having to pay a pre-determined quantity up-front, which would have left her with nearly nothing.
Discussion at a group meeting even convinced Rajkali that her daughter should give birth in a hospital, rather than at home. Rajkali noted that after her first granddaughter was delivered at home with a village practitioner, her daughter-in-law elected to deliver the next child in a local hospital after fellow group members advised Rajkali that the benefits and safety of hospital delivery were worth the increased cost.