Aamara Biswas-Women helping Women through Nano Finance
Joyasree (Ranu) Mahanti grew up in the western part of Odisha, one of the poorest states of India, where more than 70% of the population live in villages. In 1973, I moved to Michigan after marrying my husband Professor Subhendra D. Mahanti and raised two children in East Lansing, Michigan. In 1997, I took an early retirement from my job as a computer programmer analyst to pursue my dream of working with India’s less fortunate women, a dream I had from an young age. From 1997, I have started going to Odisha for three to four months every year. I worked at the grassroots level with different local nonprofit organizations for nearly a decade, focusing mainly on supporting impoverished women.
It all began in 2006 when listening the story from a young woman who was paying $1 interest (monthly) for a loan of $10 that she took from a money lender for her son's medicine. To close the loan, she had to pay the entire principal of $10 at one time, which was not possible for her family of five with a joint income of $40. In her work in India, Joyasree had witnessed many such heart breaking moments. This was the motivation for Joyasree to launch Aamara Biswas (Our Trust) in 2007 to implement the Nano Finance concept in urban areas and villages of the state of Odisha, India, as well as the US-based nonprofit organization, Our Biswas (Our Belief In the Services for Women of All Societies) in 2007 to support Nano Finance programs in India and other parts of the world.