“Four years ago, I lost my dad and my family was in deep poverty. I had to borrow as small an amount as Rs 10. Today, I have no loans, I bought a cow with the money I saved and I started earning more,” says Prathima of Malur village who got a chance at transforming her life.
Earlier, Prathima’s family earned less, took loans, took more loans to repay the loans, and the cycle continued. They did not know how to break away from this cycle. But when she got the knowledge, skills and tools that helped her combat poverty, she overcame the situation with all vigour. That’s what Buzz India, an NGO, is geared to do, equip the poor with all the armaments they need to overcome poverty.
Buzz India rolls into the remotest villages, in a bus, to reach marginalised women and give them their much-deserved chance at changing their destinies.
These orange buses are fully equipped to open up as a classroom anywhere under the sky and start offering training.
“We give training to women on how they can manage their money, find an alternate source of income, become entrepreneurs and start solving problems on their own without resigning to fate. The women start learning what their income is and how they should plan their expenditure. They learn to identify where they are spending wastefully and how they can save money. They start identifying opportunities to improve their small businesses. They start identifying potential opportunities for starting businesses – may be a petty shop, a saree business, or cattle business. Another significant change is that the women break away from the clutches of money lenders. We have seen this change happening in 95% of the women we train. Above all, we see that the women start believing that their lives can change for the better”, says Uthara Narayanan, co-founder and Chief Changemaker of Buzz India.
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Buzz India’s training is followed by a long-term handholding programme led by the women leaders chosen from amongst the trained women. These women become ambassadors of change.
Having proved that change is possible, Prathima became one of the leaders who is helping other women come up in life.
She says, “I want the other women to experience this feeling – of earning and spending money without having to ask for it, being independent and feeling confident. I want to tell my story to as many women as I can so they feel ‘if she can do it, why can’t I?’”
“Most of the women come from difficult family backgrounds – alcoholic husbands, domestic abuse, health issues and more. Through the women leaders we are creating a platform in the community for the women to talk to each other and solve the problems in their lives. It’s wonderful to see how the women find their way out of everyday problems,” says Chandrasekhariah, Community Co-ordinator at Buzz India.
In the last five years, Buzz India has trained over 25,000 women in Tumkur, Kolar and rural Bengaluru and helped them overcome poverty and lead a life of dignity.
Rajeshwari, a farmer, started a snacks shop in her village within seven days of attending the Buzz India training. Devamma, who pulled herself out of years of living in debt, is a leader in her community who has organized several women into Self Help Groups to improve their livelihood opportunities. Venkatalakshmammma, an Anganwadi teacher, introduced piggy banks in her classroom for the children to learn how to save money.
“These women who have found their potential to take charge of their lives are bringing prosperity to their families and communities. The impact we see is pushing us to do more. We have set ourselves a target of reaching 1 million women by 2025, across all districts of Karnataka,” says Uthara.