What is Shanti Life? 
  • We aim to promote sustainable living and NON- dependence on the microfinance loan cycle. We want people to graduate out of microfinance and become bankable – this is a true measure of our joint success.
  • Through planning, consultation, training, mentoring, larger loans and go to market opportunities we provide a holistic approach.
  • Our loans are larger generally $100 plus and our interests are capped at 12% though are sometimes as low as 7%.
  • We provide funds to men and women of all religions and castes.
  • We don’t make loans to clients (that word isn’t in our vocabulary) rather each person we work with becomes a partner or beneficiary – we know them
  • We work in communities where we know there is a group support and desire to improve living standards
  • We don’t want to make millions of loans rather we want to make a deep impact in the lives of those who can become role models for others.
  • Pay it Forward – each person who is successful in their activities will repay their loans which will be recycled to others in the community
What is Microfinance? 
The term “microfinance,” once associated almost exclusively with small-value loans to the poor, is now increasingly used to refer to a broad array of products (including payments, savings, and insurance) tailored to meet the particular needs of low-income individuals. People living in poverty, like everyone else, need a diverse range of financial services to run their businesses, build assets, smooth consumption, and manage risks.Poor people usually address their need for financial services through a variety of financial relationships, mostly informal. Credit is available from informal moneylenders, but usually at a very high cost to borrowers. Savings services are available through a variety of informal relationships like savings clubs, rotating savings and credit associations, and other mutual savings societies. But these tend to be erratic and somewhat insecure. Traditionally, banks have not considered poor people to be a viable market.

Different types of financial services providers for poor people have emerged – non-government organizations (NGOs); cooperatives; community-based development institutions like self-help groups and credit unions; commercial and state banks; insurance and credit card companies; telecommunications and wire services; post offices; and other points of sale – offering new possibilities.

These providers have increased their product offerings and improved their methodologies and services over time, as poor people proved their ability to repay loans, and their desire to save. In many institutions, there are multiple loan products providing working capital for small businesses, larger loans for durable goods, loans for children’s education and to cover emergencies. Safe, secure deposit services have been particularly well received by poor clients, but in some countries NGO microfinance institutions are not permitted to collect deposits.

Remittances and money transfers are used by many poor people as a safe way to send money home. Banking through mobile phones (mobile banking) makes financial services even more convenient, and safer, and enables greater outreach to more people living in isolated areas.

A growing body of empirical evidence shows that access to the right financial service at the right time helps households build assets, generate income, smooth consumption, and protect themselves from risks. At the policy level, decision-makers have recognized that an inclusive financial system that reaches all citizens also allows for more effective and efficient execution of other social policies, for example through conditional payment transfers in health and education. And at the macro level, we know that deeper financial intermediation in an economy leads to more growth, and less inequality. (CGAP)

Why help build an ECO-sanitation toilet? 
The poor women we work with have no access to sanitation resulting in illnesses and poor productivity; they also have no access to financial literacy or capital to build their own businesses.In the first instance the women have to walk miles away from the home at night so that they can defecate. On these long journeys they face danger including attacks, snake and insect bites. Scared for their safety, many women choose not to eat, resulting in child bearing related illnesses and anemia. Accessing medication from far away hospitals is expensive.

In the second instance, poor women are rarely allowed to leave their homes let alone gain skills (education) to set up their own small businesses. They are expected to nurture in-laws and large families depending on meager earnings from their husbands (if they are married). The pressure is immense. This causes illnesses and non-productivity.

Often other members of the household reject them for not being able to contribute to the household and farming duties. Existing access to loans is dangerous because they are given at very high interest rates with no training and impossible repayment conditions. Traditional value systems mean that women’s needs are not a priority and they have little decision making power in the household – they suffer the most which has knock on negative effects to the elderly and children.

Help these women construct eco-sanitation toilets and washing facilities in their homes. Your contribution will provide women farmers with all the tools (bricks, soil, plaster, and recycling technology) to construct these facilities. Improved health will result in more productivity in the farms and cost savings on medicines. All the waste will be recycled and used to grow crops.

What businesses does Shanti support?  

Businesses include: tailoring, sewing, embroidery, selling cooking oil, vegetable or fruit carts, hand cart purchase, small grocery store, milk and paper vending business, cycle repair shop, repairing shop, rickshaw driving and catering.

What are loan amounts and interest charged? 
Loan disbursements are larger than most organizations in that we provide amounts starting from GBP 100 / USD 150 and upwards.We charge between 7-12% interest (remarkably lower than most organisations).

What is the shop for?  

The artisans find it difficult to sell their goods at nearby fairs or melas – often they are too far and cost of transport is high. The artisans also don’t know what is sellable abroad therefore Shanti’s team works on the ground to assist in creating designs that result in finished products which can be sold online. http://www.shantiyogabags.com/

How is Shanti Life different from Kiva? 
1st Difference
  • Kiva is not a Microfinance Institution (MFI). Kiva is a platform that connects lenders with Microfinance Institutions.
  • Shanti Life is a Microfinance Institution with charity status in the US, Canada, UK and India.
2nd Difference
  • Kiva’s interest rates are amongst the highest in the industry, as it doesn’t cap the rates charged by its partners. According to their site, the average partner charges approximately 35%, while some charge a staggering 65%.
  • At 12% Shanti’s interest rate is amongst the lowest in the Industry and allows beneficiaries a chance to evolve rather than getting stuck in the loan process (of taking loans to repay loans).
3rd Difference
  • Kiva is unable to operate in India due its business model – funds cannot be transfered out of India. This makes it impossible for Kiva to repay lenders when loan recipients repay their loans.
  • Shanti is able to operate in India because all monies repaid by loan recipients is recycled to create more loans for more people.
4th Difference

Kiva’s loan recipients are exposed to currency fluctuations, meaning they might end up repaying more than they originally estimated.

Shanti doesn’t have lenders. We have “investors” whose money keeps on giving. When a recipient repays their loan the money is then lent to a new person.

Shanti Life:
  • Shanti Life is an MFI and we do operate in India.
  • Donors do not get their funds back, instead they pay it forward to the next beneficiary.
  • We know each of our beneficiaries.
  • Our interest is capped at 12% and there are no other local interest payments that the beneficiary needs to shoulder.
  • We provide training and mentoring alongside larger size loans.
  • Shanti offer go to market opportunities by helping artisans sell their products online and in shops globally.
  • We monitor knock on effects from the process including improved health, longer education for children, diginity etc.
  • Our platform enables people to graduate out of microfinance and not become dependent on the loan cycle.