Since 2003, Rojiroti has been modelling a unique approach to microfinance in Bihar (Northern India). As a grassroots organisation, its operating mechanisms are designed by, and for, its members.
As a result, Rojiroti has supported well over 150, 000 people, with members who are more marginalised than those reached by other microfinance providers.
This approach is also sustainable, with more than 99% of loans successfully repaid and revolved for use by Rojiroti's network.
Rojiroti groups form after contact with community mobilisers, who facilitate initial savings and meetings. The focus then immediately shifts to supporting women members with an interest in, and aptitude for, facilitating groups to become group leaders.
This has meant that over 80 percent of current Rojiroti staff are women and women also make up the majority of Rojiroti's managing board.
Rojiroti's staff are from the communities in which they work, so they are well-placed to understand the needs of those they are working with. It has also enabled them to support women who are more marginalised than those who have been reached by other microfinance organisations.
26 women staff members manage between 70 and 80 groups This is possible because there are several SHGs in each village (5 or 6 in some villages, maybe 10 or more in others).
In addition to these staff, Rojiroti is supported by 7 facilitators, Their roles are to receive loan applications, to disburse money, and to maintain financial records. Rojiroti's 32 staff meet on the 5th or 6th of every month in Shaharrampur Village, Patna District. This is an open meeting attended by all Rojiroti group leaders and usually some other members. Anyone who wishes to participate is welcome to the meeting which takes place at the house of Mrs Savitri Devi.
Rojiroti’s members are mostly women from disadvantaged castes who are farmers and/or livestock keepers. Currently, Rojiroti has approximately 2000 groups, made up of between 10-12 women.
Groups meet weekly and make individual contributions to the group fund. This is used to provide small loans to members, and its maintenance qualifies them to apply for bigger loans from a revolving fund.
Rojiroti loans often initially meet urgent needs, such as:
Mainstream microfinance organisations often regard these purposes as 'unproductive' and 'risky'. But in reality, these loans support women to no longer have to sell assets or take informal loans at punitive rates of interest. Rojiroti also recognises that their members are best placed to know what loans are needed for.
Over time, members increasingly borrow for agricultural purposes, children's education, home improvements and to start businesses.
Rojiroti is implemented in India by the Centre for Promoting Sustainable Livelihood (CPSL) based in Patna, Bihar. It is supported by the charity Rojiroti UK and by a network of people worldwide.
CPSL was formed in 2003 and registered under Society Registration Act 1860, resulting from the DFID Natural Resources Systems Programme (NRSP) research project R7839, which developed sustainable and scaleable institutional arrangements at the community level that would facilitate livelihood improvement for the poor. CPSL was created from this to: promote a transparent system of community development and to facilitate grassroots decision-making, with these processes supported within groups, rather than for them. For further details about Rojiroti, you can contact the Secretary of CPSL - Mr Sunil Choudhary - on +919431012521 or at firstname.lastname@example.org
Rojiroti UK is a UK-registered charity set up in 2011 to support the work of CPSL and to promote knowledge and understanding of the Rojiroti model. The four trustees who currently make up its Board all have close knowledge of Rojiroti's work.
From 2012-2015, 62% of a grant of £243, 894 from DFID was directly allocated to CPSL's revolving fund and used for members' loans, whilst the remainder supported CPSL's operating costs. The part of the grant allocated directly to loans has remained in the revolving fund since the project ended in 2015, continuing to be used for loans, and has grown, supporting Rojiroti's expanding operations and representing sustainability.
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