Soft Loans to Empower Women in Rural Areas

An empowered woman can stimulate a positive change in society. If the Government's initiative comes to fruition then we could see women entrepreneurs plying vehicles between towns in various parts of India.

This Independence Day the Rural Development Ministry is set to launch a self-employed program for women to support themselves financially.

Read on to know the important features of this scheme and how it will benefit the rural women of our nation.

Soft Loans with Hard Benefits

 A soft loan, also known as concessional financing are loans offered at low or no interest rates, with extended periods of grace to empower a section of society.

The target of this scheme are the womenfolk from rural areas who are solely dependent on agriculture for employment, and the seasonal nature of agriculture does not provide steady sources of income. Coupled with this is the pressing issue of improving public transport in rural India.

The rural ministry plans to introduce soft loans for Women's Self-Help Groups to buy vehicles and hire drivers. These vehicles will become means of transportation between villages which have been selected based on their remoteness and lack of public transport.

This soft loan will enable the women to achieve the greater level of economic independence.

A Landmark Initiative

Soft Loans provided under this scheme is exclusively for buying mini-buses that can carry 10 to 12 passengers at a time. These mini-buses come at an estimated cost of 8 Lakhs INR. The Self-Help group will be funded to buy 6 to 8 vehicles to run the service in a certain region.

Initially, the ministry had planned to charge an interest rate of 12%. Post deliberations it was realised that the expenses on fuel, driver, and repayment of principle amount could not meet the returns for the entrepreneurs and was made interest free.
The project which is expected to be launched across the states of Jharkhand, Bihar, UP and Odisha aims to cover a minimum of 6000 rural areas across the country within 10 years of timeline through Women's Self-Help groups. A woman member of each household will be made the beneficiary of the scheme.

Women as drivers of economy

The project is designed exclusively for women living in rural backgrounds to generate a consistent income on their own.The loan provided under this scheme is totally interest-free with a longer tenure of repayment. Along with improving the lifestyle of rural women, the scheme will pave way for quicker and frequent transportation between the villages and towns.

Soft loans for women to run public transport will not only uplift the status of women in our country but also will put them in the driving seat of our economy.  

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