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More about Micro-Grants

No Hands Man

Copal used to beg in front of the village store. The shop owner would often curse at him and threaten him until he moved away. But through micro-lending, Padma supplied Copal with a very small loan to buy a pot and two cups. He began a simple tea business which gradually expanded. Today when Copal goes to the store, the shop keeper welcomes him, sets a chair for him, and offers him tea. You see, today, Copal supplies tea to the store! What a difference it makes to be treated with dignity as a productive member of society!

A Little Goes a Long Way

Traditionally, Leprosy patients have survived by begging. They leave the colonies for two weeks at a time to travel to the nearest city where they live in the streets as beggars until they collect enough money to return back to the colony where they can sleep (on the dirt floor) of their own home for a few days. Then it's back to the streets again. Fortunately, this pattern is now changing in colonies where Rising Star Outreach is working to create small businesses that allow the colonists to become self-sufficient.

In June of 2003, Rising Star Outreach partnered with Padma Venkataraman to initiate a large-scale economic rehabilitation project in the colonies of Tamil Nadu, India.

Padma, the daughter of India's former president and a well-known activist for the poor, had already initiated several of these projects with the help of the Danish charity, DANITA , and was seeing remarkable success. Her approach is to provide small loans (usually between ten and two hundred dollars) which enable people to buy basic equipment and supplies to begin their own small businesses. Using Padma’s methods, Leprosy patients have been presented with a viable alternative to begging and the opportunity to rise above the stigma of their disease for the first time in known history.

Today, Rising Star Outreach typically has about 1,000 loans out at any given time which are constantly being repaid and reissued. Padma oversees the collection of repayments using an ingenious system in which the Leprosy patients police themselves through organized committees in each colony (consisting of a minimum of two women per every five members). A representative from each colony attends a monthly meeting to provide updates on their success, present their bank statements, and to apply for new loans. Currently 31 colonies and 10 government homes are participating in this monthly forum.

Helping Hand

Group Smiling

Circle Group Learning

As the people learn the skills they need to provide for their own needs, they are slowly regaining their sense of self-respect. Some of the colonies that have been active in micro-lending efforts for several years have almost become self-sufficient villages that no longer rely on charity for their survival. In them can be found small businesses of all kinds supported by Rising Star Outreach micro-loans, including agriculture, animal husbandry, shops, carpenters, barbers, beauty shops, day-care centers, tailors, roof construction, artists, seamstresses, bicycles, auto-rickshaws, and even some cars.

IroningMilkingHolding a PictureSewing

ShavingStandingManLittle Car


One of our most successful microbusinesses is in partnership with Pearls with Purpose. Many women from the colonies are making beautiful pearl jewelry with their loans. Being able to earn income, learn a new skill and provide for their families has created new excitement as these stunning pieces sell almost faster than they can make them.

Smiling and Looking

Through the micro-lending projects, a revived feeling of dignity is gradually emerging throughout the colonies.

The people are enthusiastic about their independence, and exhibit a renewed excitement for life.

Instead of facing a life of despair and abandonment, they are for the first time, full of hope and dignity.



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