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INDIA: Salesian MACS Self-Help Groups for women provide skills training and start-up loans to help them gain self-sufficiency

(MissionNewswire) Don Bosco Seva Kendra operates MACS (Mutual Aided Cooperative Societies) Self-Help Groups for women. The goal is to help women become financially self-sufficient and be able to better care for their families. Recently, Leelavathi Dandemoori,  from the Gujjanagundla village of the Guntur District and whose husband is a laborer, was able to access both training and start-up loans so she could launch her own business.

Dandemoori has two school age children, a boy and a girl. The family was having difficulty meeting school fees and household expenses. Her neighbors told her about the Salesian Self-Help Groups and so she joined. She was able to receive training and loans that helped her move from working in a small shop and only earning a meager wage to launching her own cart to sell fresh lemonade. To date, it’s been very successful for Dandemoori, and she’s been better able to support her household.

“I receive a good profit from the sales so I was able to construct a tin slab house with the profits after paying the monthly installments,” says Dandemoori. “At present, I am able to pay my children’s school fee regularly. I am able to manage loan repayment installments, children’s school fees and maintenance of my juice cart business. My husband’s income is invested in household expenditures. We are happy with the income and are reaching self-sustainability, especially economic sustainability. I thank MACS and Don Bosco Seva Kendra for the support they have given. I advise other women to join similar self-help groups.”

Salesian missionaries living and working in India and in more than 130 countries around the globe are focused on achieving gender equality through rights training, education and workforce development programs targeted specifically for women and girls. These programs strive to empower women and girls by providing opportunities for education and training that lead to livable wage employment and their independence from violence and exploitation.

“Many women and girls face disadvantages and barriers to accessing education and achieving financial independence despite their huge potential,” says Father Mark Hyde, director of Salesian Missions, the U.S. development arm of the Salesians of Don Bosco. “Women who are empowered through these skills training programs along with education and workforce development assistance are more often able to achieve financial independence and help support their families and communities.”

India has the world’s fourth largest economy but more than 22 percent of the country lives in poverty. About 31 percent of the world’s multidimensionally poor children live in India, according to a new report by the Oxford Poverty and Human Development Initiative. A “multidimensionally poor” child is one who lacks at least one-third of 10 indicators, grouped into three dimensions of poverty: health, education and standard of living.

India’s youth also face a lack of educational opportunities due to issues of caste, class and gender. Almost 44 percent of the workforce is illiterate and less than 10 percent of the working-age population has completed a secondary education. In addition, many secondary school graduates do not have the knowledge and skills to compete in today’s changing job market.



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