Blighty Arts Women’s Project, part of registered charity Finsbury Park Arts, helps women in India and Rwanda out of poverty by giving micro-finance or ‘good faith’ loans to women to start their own business. Blighty also run two cafes in Tottenham and Finsbury Park which are separate to the charitable project.
We had a chat with Surinder and Paul from Blighty. The project is focused in Guntur (nearest large city Hyderabad) in India, and in and around Kigali in Rwanda. The micro-credit model is inspired by Mohammad Yunus’ book Banker To The Poor which provides a sustainable way for women to get themselves out of poverty. Paul told us, ‘these are people who cannot be typically reached by traditional models of charitable investment, and usually lack the literacy or residential status to receive help from the banks. These people have been surviving off scraps from their community, in countries where there is no benefits system, with little hope of improving their lot in life.’
They work alongside people based on the ground who help them to identify women to help and support. Paul explained ‘We have a handful of contacts in each country who already have a history of working to lift people out of poverty, including a couple who run an orphanage. Their knowledge enables us to identify women who might have a great idea for a business but need some help with the capital to get started.’
As the loans are paid back, a small amount each week, the money is passed on to the next women needing support. Since they started in 2014, Blighty Arts has helped around 200 women in India and six in Rwanda where they have just expanded the programme.
Some of the success stories have included:
Aruna – bought a buffalo and sells milk in the community.
Teeni – bought ten goats. She then fattens and sells the meat.
Marema – has a cafe stall from a previous loan, and now plans to expand this.
Mary – set up a little outdoors shop from a loan three years ago. This is going well and now she plans to open another.
Money is raised by hiring out their work and event spaces in Tottenham and Finsbury Park and they also take donations.
Blighty Arts hope to help a further 200 women in the next year. Find out more on their website: blightyarts.org.uk