Shankar Paswan ran a roadside sindoor stall in the Kalighat area before he had to shut up shop because of the lockdown. He used up his capital, borrowed money from lenders and survived on rations.
Customers started returning but Paswan had no capital to restart his business. He needed Rs 3,000.
Siliya Debi needed Rs 2,000 to restart the tea stall she had been running in Hazra for more than 15 years. It is no mean sum for her to arrange with grandchildren at home to feed.
Calcutta Social Project, an NGO that has been working with women and children for almost five decades have decided to provide interest-free loans to such vendors to help them restart their businesses during the pandemic.
The idea is not to give them donations or grants but let them remain “self-respecting vendors”, Arjun Dutta, the president of Calcutta Social Project, said. “They have to repay as and when they are able to.”
The NGO will provide loans ranging from Rs 2,000 to Rs 7,000.
The thought of giving loans came after speaking to food aid beneficiaries whom the NGO has been providing with ration during the lockdown, Dutta said.
“We realised there are so many small independent people who have been reduced to being destitute… dependents on our charity… who have lost their security, self-respect and sustainability,” he said.
“We have started identifying such people and restoring their businesses by helping them with funds. We will do this for small operators and they will repay when they can… the time can be decided when the loan is disbursed.”