Small business grants change life of women in city slums

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DHAKA, Sept 29, 2019 (BSS) – Once Rubina had suffered a lot after her RMG
worker husband lost his job from a factory two years ago. Her husband Mujibul
Howlader hailing from Barishal looked for a new job but failed to manage it,
putting his four-member family in untold sufferings.

“As my husband failed to manage a work, he started working as a day-
labourer. But, the amount of money he earned was not enough to bear our
family expenses. At that time, we lived from hand-to-mouth. No work, no
food,” said Rubina who is living in Korail slum in the capital.

Recalling the days when they were in plight, she said they were unable to
send their children to school as they did not have enough money to bear their
educational expenses.

“So, I was thinking how I can earn money and contribute to my family to
get rid of the vicious circle of poverty. One day, with the help of local
women community leaders, I received a small business grant of Taka 7,000 from
an urban development project,” said Rubina, mother of two children.

“I bought a sewing machine with the grant money and started sewing clothes
at my home. Since then, I have been earning Taka 400 per day on average. As I
can contribute to my family, now there is no hardship in my family,” she
added.

Rubina said her only daughter Mim is now studying in class-III at
Mohakhali Model School. “Now I spend about Taka 1,600 per month, on average,
for my daughter as tuition and coaching fees,” she added.

Another grant receiver, Shahnoor Akhter, received a small grant of Taka
7,000 from the project last year and started a tailoring business in Korail
slum after buying a sewing machine with the grant money.

“I’ve been earning Taka 500-600 profit per day from my business and
spending the money for my family. As my day labourer husband does not get
work every day, I have taken the responsibility of my family. And it is not a
problem for me now since I earn,” she said.

Like Rubina and Shahnoor, many women living in urban slums have been
receiving small business grants under the Livelihood Improvement of Urban
Poor Communities (LIUPC) Project, being implemented by Local Government
Division and supported by UNDP.

LIUPC town manager Md Jainal Abedin said around 1,746 women have so far
received the small business grants from the project in the Dhaka North City
Corporation area.

He said women living in slums do not have adequate scopes of income and
that is why the project started the small business grant scheme. “And now
women can launch small ventures like setting a small business and vending
after receiving grants from the project, which helps them improve their
livelihoods,” he added.

“We find out the underprivileged families of the slum by conducting a
survey and distribute small business grants to them. We also provide other
supports for the vulnerable slum women to help them run a small business or
create other livelihood options,” community organiser Tahmina Akhter said.

The LIUPC project, which will be completed by June 2023, aims to
contribute to balanced and sustainable growth by reducing urban poverty in
Bangladesh and the achievements of the Sustainable Development Goals by 2030
that call for ‘leaving no one behind’.

The project is designed to reach first the underserved urban population in
the country and promote the livelihoods and living conditions of up to four
million people living in urban areas in 12 city corporations and 24
municipalities.

The project is financing the urban poor in ensuring safety to living and
building houses and climate resilient smaller infrastructures in slums,
according to project officials.

Besides, they said, the project provides financial support for the urban
poor to launch small scale businesses and run nutritional programmes, while
it also provides grants and other facilities to them for their sustainable
livelihoods and improving their living standard.

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