CSR Success Stories
Sarmistha (Salboni, West Bengal)
Sarmistha: an inspiration to many in her community
Life in a non-descript Station-Para Village in Salboni Block of West Bengal was rather tiresome for physically challenged Sarmistha. A mother of two, she was sick and tired of her labourer husband’s alcoholism and his bad habit of spending most of his earnings on boozing. Despite her physical deformities, Sarmistha had no choice but to herself work as an agricultural labourer to ensure that the basic needs of her family were met. Her worries started to grow along with her growing children. Their health and schooling weighed heavy on her mind.
That was the time in 2016 when Dalmia Bharat Foundation (DBF) was encouraging poor women to form their own collectives, called the Self Help Groups (SHGs). The SHGs, which focus on micro-credit and thrift, open up enormous opportunities for poor like Sarmistha by way of giving them access to institutional finance. Very reluctantly, she agreed to be part of a group of 10. Her Group started to save small amount of money every month and opened a Bank Account. Soon the members of the Group, most of whom had never been to a Bank, became bankable themselves. The Bank was ready to lend them money!
In 2017, her Radhaswami Self Help Group availed a loan of Rs 1.8 Lakh from their Bank. Like many other members, Sarmistha sought Rs. 15000 out of that as loan for herself. She had decided to start rearing Goats. Facilitated by DBF’s team, she purchased 4 goats with that money. She worked very hard in rearing them and in due course, multiplied them 6 times. Her first sale of 10 goats fetched her 50,000 Rupees, an amount that was far-fetched for her a few months ago. Her reluctance was now replaced with confidence!
Sarmistha is now a popular ‘Goat Farmer’ in her community and sustains an average monthly income of six to seven thousand Rupees. A poised Sarmistha quotes, “Now, I am self-sufficient, have enrolled my children in a private school and pay their fee from my earnings. I have repaid my loan and I am now planning to expand my farm”.
She is a role model in Station-Para. At least 10 other women in her village have picked up goat rearing and are doing equally well!