NESFB, India: Jonali Borah, 28 years, a client of NESFB/RGVN in Gohpur Branch, belongs to Ghaligaon village of Sonitpur District in India. A Class X pass, Jonali lived in a joint family and is the mother of a 3½ year old daughter. Her husband had a small grocery shop which was fetching them around Rs. 1,200/- to Rs. 1,500/- per month (~USD 17-21) - very minimal to run a family. Jonali possessed 8 bigha (bigha = 1,340 m2) land and was looking for opportunities to increase her income by taking up some agri-based activity. Partly influenced by her neighbour who had started tea cultivation on a small scale and was earning a sizeable income, Jonali thought of using the plot of land to plant tea bushes. And having a fair idea on tea cultivation was an added advantage for Jonali to take up this activity in the land she owned. Yet another factor that was favourable for Jonali to take up tea cultivation was the tropical climate which is most suited for tea cultivation which has enabled the state of Assam in India to become the world's largest tea-growing region. 

However, due to fund constraints, she has been on the lookout for institutions which provide assistance to the poor. She then embarked upon NESFB/RGVN (North East) Microfinance Limited and approached the Gohpur branch to seek assistance for taking up this income-generating activity. Jonali Borah joined JLG (Joint Loan Group) in 2007 and availed the first loan of Rs. 10,000/- (~USD 140). She bought tea bushes from Daphlagarh & Nirmala Tea Estates and kick-started tea plantation in her own piece of land. She has recently availed the 5th dose of credit amounting to Rs. 30,000/- (~USD 430) and has been investing the money in her tea garden. The tea leaves are sold to the above estates and also in the Sibsagar market at Rs. 22/- (~USD 0.3) per kilo. Jonali’s income, with this cash-crop, increased by Rs. 5,000/- (~USD 71) per month. 

Jonali has purchased a cycle which she uses to deliver tea in the market area and also for collecting dues from the shopkeepers. Her husband and brother help her in the business and once the business reaches a proportionate level, she plans to hire employees and grow tea bushes in a much bigger area viz. 10-12 bigha land. Jonali, out of the surplus from her business, saves Rs. 3,000/- (~USD 43) per month and plans to use the proceeds for purchasing a shop which she intends to use for selling of manufactured tea. She also has plans to improve her home-front by procuring essentials and also to educate her child properly. 

"I would be happy and thankful to NESFB/RGVN if a training on tea-growing is provided to me which would go a long way in understanding the present-day techniques and enable me to adopt best practices and increase the volume of my business", says Jonali who has high aims of becoming a top-class business women in the area. 

Source: NESFB, India.