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Usha Multipurpose Cooperative Society Ltd.

 

Achievements of USHA

Usha is the largest financial institution in South Asia, owned and managed by sex workers. Membership has increased steadily over the years, as shown in the table below:

Year

No of Members

1995 - 1996

94

1996 - 1997

104

1997 - 1998

214

1998 - 1999

483

1999 - 2000

1801

2000 - 2001

2219

2001 - 2002

2712

2002 - 2003

4771

2003 - 2004

5901

2004 - 2005

7242

2005 - 2006

8084

2008

10016

2009

10720

2010

13000

Till June 2011

16228


Usha offers loans to approximately 4,000 to 5,000 sex worker members annually. As a financial institution, it has one of the best recovery rates in the State of West Bengal (>90%). It has an annual turnover of Rs 11.75 crores and working capital worth Rs 9.25 crores. Usha has been a member of the prestigious Federation of National Cooperative Union (the policy-making body of cooperative societies in the country) since 1997.

Impact of the Activities

  1. Usha has promoted responsible saving and spending habits among sex workers.
  2. It has enabled sex workers to save and create a reserve of earnings to fall back upon in contingency or crisis situations.
  3. Sex workers’ dependence on unscrupulous money lenders, loan sharks and other dubious financial agents has markedly diminished because of the intervention. USHA has also reduced indebtedness and economic bondage among sex workers, due to which they can opt out of or discontinue sex work if they wish.
  4. USHA has encouraged self sufficiency, social security and economic independence among sex workers. This has enabled many to plan rehabilitation and prepare for their old age.
  5. The loans offered by USHA have enabled sex workers to send their children to schools and colleges. As a result, many children of sex workers are pursuing higher education including graduate degrees and diplomas, masters and even M-Phil courses.
  6. USHA has also helped create alternative jobs for out-of-work and elderly sex workers. Last year alone, USHA has helped 222 such women avail various forms of alternate employment.

Principles underlying the work
Usha has been guided by the following principles in its work:

  1. Programs for, of and by sex workers
  2. Voluntary membership
  3. Democratic participation and self rule
  4. Combining benefit and contribution; i.e., as sex workers’ benefit from economic security they also contribute to the development of the cooperative society
  5. Service delivery and capacity building; i.e., sex workers learn and grow in the process of managing their finances

A cooperative is always dependent upon its number of members. To improve upon one’s own socio-economic condition, members must collectivize and form a cooperative, but that is not the end. Along with the establishment of an institution, members must take the responsibility of materializing all the goals of the cooperative. Each member must never forget that while they are the owner of this cooperative, they are also its beneficiary. The success of a cooperative depends upon the will power of the members and their vision to fulfill the objectives of a collective. These create a sense of responsibility, belonging, and love towards the cooperative. Thus over the past eighteen years, USHA has taken a lead role in the workers’ cooperative movement and plans to pave the path to success for years to come.