Anju is leading a savings group in Bangladesh
Anju is 34 years old. She was married at the age of 13 and had her first child just a year later – a daughter who dropped out of school and was married by 16. Anju decided then that she wouldn’t let her grandchildren be part of the same cycle. She would show them that they could be self-reliant.
Seeking an opportunity to own her destiny, Anju undertook The Hunger Project’s Animator Training in 2012 where she learned about women’s leadership and the value of independent income generation. She subsequently took a 1000 Days Training in maternal health where she learned about the importance of food, rest, checkups, etc.
Following her initial animator training, she and five other women began a self-help savings group to launch an income-generating project of their own. Anju lives in a rural farming community in a lush landscape that grows bananas, oranges, rice, and more.
She and her fellow self-help group members were made aware by their trained union coordinator that their local market was selling compost at a premium price and putting added pressure on an already impoverished community. Not to mention that the fertiliser was full of pesticides that were causing long-term damage to the fertile soil and reducing crop sizes (and subsequently income) for farmers each year. So, Anju and her group began making and selling their own organic compost to their community. And with the profits, they reinvested in themselves — buying sewing machines for women launching tailoring services, buying goats for women launching agricultural projects, and running health and education training for the community.
There are now 20 women in Anju’s self-help group who have saved and loaned 63,000 Tk to other women pioneering their own income-generating activities. When these women make a profit, they reinvest a portion in the self-help group, so the savings and loan group grows together.
“I will tell my grandchildren, boy or girl, that the most important thing is to be educated, be empowered, and be self-dependent.”
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