Trip Start Apr 23, 2009
14Trip End Oct 16, 2009
Map your own trip!
Show trip route
BASIX group is comprised on 6 different arms all focused within the realm of sustainable livelihood development. One of the arms is a microfinance bank called Krishna Bhima Samruddhi or KBS Bank. Unlike other microfinance institutions, KBS Bank offers a wide array of financial services beyond just credit giving. They offer deposit and current accounts, various insurance products, consulting services, and even micropensions. Furthermore, their operations are impressive. Since their customers are quite poor and cannot travel to a bank to seek a loan, KBS goes to their door. They have a hub and spoke network that reaches into some of the most remote regions of India. They even have mobile banking branches, called Bank on Wheels or BOW!
KBS is strong in its Finances and Operations, but it doesn't even have a marketing department
When you go into these villages, there is often no productive work to had. I met some women that were hand rolling cigarettes or beedi's. They made $1 a day and worked 12 hours everyday. They are trapped. The farm workers also have low wages and are exposed to extremely dangerous working conditions. Some die from the heat, others from snake bite, others get chronic back pain and Cumulative Trauma Disorders from repetitive motion, and yet others don't have proper protective equipment for machinery operation, pesticides, etc. Whenever you think to get down on your current job, believe me when I say there are billions of people that would love to have your situtation.
As I've mentioned May is the hottest month in the region that I am working. It is similar to Arizona here with searing temperatures and the days we went into the field were about 110 degrees
When I first step foot into these villages, all eyes are on me, wondering why I am here. The adults seem quite apprehensive. The children are curious because it's possible they've never met a white person before. The children are attracted to me and want to know everything about me. They're interested to see my cheap Casio watch, my cellphone, my camera. They want to shake my hand. The first question after knowing my name and where I am from is, do I have a wife. They giggle and want to see my girlfriend's picture.
What is amazing to see is first just how poor the living conditions are, then to see some smiles. The people who are smiling are usually the ones deemed to be more prosperous in these villages. By our standards, they are at the poverty line, but in these villages, they are somewhat well off. They say happiness and unhappiness stems from comparing yourself to others and its quite obvious this is the case in these villages.
These are people trying get their basic needs met with shelter, food, and clothing, but somehow they are peaceful
India has the second most arable land in the world behind the United States, but the agriculture labor market is incredibly saturated. It has reached a point where now farm owners are seeking consulting services to increase the efficiency and productivity of their farmland. Each year jobs are shed from these productivity gains and each year these workers have to find new work. Some try non-agriculture work in the villages, like tailor, carpenter, shop owner, etc. Most move to the already overcrowded big cities in search of unskilled construction work or other work.
The modes of transportation that I have used in the field have been quite varied. There are three main methods used to get to the more remote cities, where KBS has a branch office. I've used train, bus, and company car and driver. Once in these cities, an autorickshaw or motorcycle is used
One other memorable incident was when we got onto the wrong bus. I was imagining that the people might have felt some sympathy and try to help us out or simply drop us off the bus. Instead, not only was the ticket person furious, but the people on the bus were as well, they kicked us off the bus in the middle of nowhere. 10 Km, away from where we started, we began to walk in the 110 degree heat back. Luckily a van with 18 people crammed inside stopped off. I was able to fit by seating myself where the back window should have been.