Microcredit is a curse for Bidi

RNW archive

This article is part of the RNW archive. RNW is the former Radio Netherlands Worldwide or Wereldomroep, which was founded as the Dutch international public broadcaster in 1947. In 2011, the Dutch government decided to cut funding and shift RNW from the ministry of Education, Culture and Science to the ministry of Foreign Affairs. More information about RNW Media’s current activities can be found at https://www.rnw.org/about-rnw-media.

Ten years ago, Bidi Mehidana went to a state-run bank in her village four hours from the eastern Indian city of Kolkata to get a microloan. For 4000 rupees - that's nearly 60 euros – she bought a cow. But a year later, before Bidi was able to sell even a litre of milk, the cow died. Since then microcredit has been a curse for her.
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Bidi went back to the bank two years later to apply for another microloan to buy another cow, but they turned her down. Since then her debt has risen to 12,000 rupees or nearly 175 euros. The bank sends her statements every month, but she refuses to accept them, thinking somehow that this will stop her debt from increasing further. Bank officials have gone to her house on several occasions to demand repayment, but she is unable to pay the interest, let alone the capital. The bank charges her 8 percent interest per year - much lower than the commercial bank rate of 12 to 16 percent.

Bidi's only income comes from a local embroidery project. She earns 22 euros a month. Bidi's husband grows rice, like most of the other men in the village. But he sells the crop in advance and so he never has any money. When he feels like it, he goes out to fish to earn a bit of pocket money. When Bidi asks him for money, he answers, "I can't do anything. Just go out and borrow money," he tells her.

Bidi's debt increased further three years ago, when she borrowed 10,000 rupees or nearly 150 euros from a village money-lender to pay the dowry for one of her daughters. The interest rate is 20 percent a month. The pressure is so great, says Bidi, that she's "seriously thinking of taking poison to kill herself".

Click here for an account of how the video came about.
This video portrait is part of a series about small businesses that have received microcredit. The eight reports have been produced for Radio Netherlands Worldwide’s series “Microfinance – who profits?” that was launched on 25 January 2010 at a conference at the Peace Palace in The Hague.