Priya is a hardworking caregiver and small business owner living in a rural village near the town of Thirukattupalli in south India. As a girl, she completed high school, then paused continuing her own education to allow her sisters to finish school in person. She worked in a shop to help secure their education, then pursued a degree in business administration from home. Fewer than half of girls in rural India pursue education past the age of 14 and an even smaller percentage attend university. Priya’s hard work and sacrifice helped her family defy the odds, and as she succeeds, she continues to lift up the people around her.

With her degree in hand and small children at home, Priya and her husband agreed that starting their own shop was the right choice for their family. A grocery store in their village would provide food and essential items to their community, make good use of her education, and help them care for their children. But they faced a very practical challenge: startup costs for a grocery store are high. While most people across India have bank accounts, other financial products have yet to reach rural households. Priya might have lacked access to a loan that would let her stock her shelves before opening, but fortunately, she connected with Dvara KGFS.

Priya manages her business

Dvara KGFS is a client-focused provider of financial products to low-income households and microbusinesses in rural India. The microlender provided Priya and several neighbors with a group loan — a product that allows rural women to guarantee one another. They receive a low-cost loan and are accountable to each other for repaying it; together, Priya and her fellow group members used their loans to start businesses in their community. And by repaying regularly, they have begun building their own credit history to qualify for future loans.

When COVID-19 struck, Priya and countless other small business owners struggled to navigate the pandemic. Due to strict lockdown protocol, revenue at her store declined significantly. On top of that, Priya’s husband lost his job in 2020. Support from Dvara helped sustain her business so that, as pandemic restrictions lifted and supply chain snarls untangled, her family was financially stable and her shelves were stocked for her neighbors to shop from.

Accion partners with Dvara because of our shared commitment to expanding the reach, quality, and affordability of critical financial tools. Dvara reaches over one million Indians in rural areas, helping them build wealth, start and grow businesses, and access in-person and digital banking. As part of the Mastercard and Accion partnership to help small businesses operate in and benefit from the digital economy, Accion is supporting Dvara in its efforts to leverage technology to unlock efficiency and create optimal customer experiences. We are working together to bring digital financial management tools to small business owners in rural India and to help millions more women like Priya uplift their communities.

See Priya tell her own story in our video, Priya defies the odds.

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