Citi Micro Entrepreneur Award – Day of the rural entrepreneur

Citi Micro Entrepreneur Award

New Delhi: Six years back, 45 year old Vasanti Uikey was heavily in debt. And today she is sitting proudly among the high and mighty of the financial world at the Citi Micro Entrepreneur Award. The awards honor her and others like her, their ability in pulling themselves out of poverty and becoming successful entrepreneurs along the way.

Nagpur resident Vasanti now has her own grocery store. But she has battled odds along the way. The job she had did not pay much. “We were in a bad condition and under heavy debt. We could not even pay interest. Around the same time a lady from Community Development Centre came to our village. I attended the meeting called by the lady and joined their group. After that I opened a savings account with them. If I deposit Rs50 it is for my own well being. That’s how it begun”. She has taken loans 8 times and not defaulted once.

Ditto for Alagarsamy from Dindigul district of Tamil Nadu, who so dramatically turned around his life that today he not only earns a cool 20 lakh rupees per annum but also provides employment to others. He took a Rs10,000 loan from the NGO, SEVA (Sustainable-Agriculture and Environmental Voluntary Action) for raising nursery.
Vasanthi and Algaraswamy are among the 10 winners of the Citi Micro Entrepreneur Award that is now in its fifth year.

These awards recognize individual micro entrepreneurs for their extra ordinary efforts in gaining self sufficiency thru innovative use of micro-finance. And there is a heartening trend that can be spotted. “The number of responses that we have been getting has increased a lot. Second in terms of geographic trends we are finding north come in with a lot more applications. I think the percentage of rural India as a part of the whole applications and award winners, most of it is coming from rural India. And my sense is that there is a lot of enterprise, lot of entrepreneurship out there”, says Sanjay Nayar, CEO South Asia, Citi.

Entrepreneurs from the villages say that while Self-Help Groups and micro-finance initiatives have been doing good work, there is a need to expand the rural branch network of commercial banks. Is somebody listening?


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