New Delhi, June 26: A government credit scheme for the minorities has thrown up a statistical nugget: one in every four male debtors has defaulted on repayment but not a single woman has done so in 18 years.
While this doesn’t imply that you can be more confident lending to a female rather than a male friend, the sample size of the data is not insignificant.
Some 805,529 men and women have taken loans from the National Minorities Development and Finance Corporation, a minority affairs ministry arm, since the self-employment loan scheme began in 1994-95.
“There hasn’t been a single defaulter among the women but the number of defaulters among the men is growing and now lies between 25 and 30 per cent,” a senior ministry official said. “We are considering doubling the loan kitty for the women from this year.”
There’s no male or female quota in the loan scheme, of course: what he meant was the credit limit for each member of a women’s self-help group might be raised from the current Rs 25,000 to Rs 50,000.
The corporation gives two types of loans: term loans to individuals and micro-finance loans to self-help groups.
“Under a term loan, an individual can get up to Rs 5 lakh and needs to repay the amount over five years. So far, men have accounted for 65 per cent of the term loans and women for 35 per cent,” another ministry official said.
However, 93 per cent of the micro-finance loans have gone to the women. “The interest rate for both kinds of loans is between 3 and 5 per cent,” the official said.
Throughout the year, the corporation disburses loans to people from the minority communities whose annual family income does not exceed Rs 40,000 (if they live in villages) or Rs 55,000 (if they are urban residents).
Between 1994-1995 and 2011-12, the number of beneficiaries swelled from 9,570 to 105,874 and the annual loan amount from Rs 30 crore to Rs 271 crore. Overall, the corporation has lent Rs 1,898.21 crore to 805,529 people, over 78 per cent of whom are Muslims.
“The 100 per cent recovery rate among the women is a very positive thing. The scheme has ushered in a big change in remote areas in several states,” said Surajit Mitra, secretary to the ministry.
Hundreds of women are running knitting, handicrafts, doll-making, tailoring and pickle-making units. Some have set up stalls selling vegetables, fish or clothes. Some others have opened beauty parlours or units that make leather wallets or paper plates.
The corporation has published a report card highlighting success stories. One was scripted by Mushtari Begum, resident of Topsia in Calcutta, who took a loan of Rs 71,250 and began making leather wallets at her home. The report says she is now “a successful entrepreneur and has increased level of operations and profits”. She repaid the loan on time.