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Fund a Microloan for a Mini-Taxi in India

Item # 28507

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Give a woman in the slums of Chennai, India the keys to a new life -- a life in which she's behind the driver's wheel.

For women in the urban slums of India, hope can seem an impossible destination. The worst slum in the city of Chennai (formerly known as Madras) is a tiny area called Gandhi Nagar into which 15,000 people are somehow crammed. It is bordered on the north by a river of sewage. It is a place of deep poverty and need, in which children start working as young as possible and self-determination is usually only a dream.

SPEED Trust is a nonprofit that has been working in the slums of Chennai to empower the residents through education, responsibility, and earning power. One of SPEED Trust's more creative programs gives women from the slum the chance to multiply their earning power tenfold by becoming drivers of "mini-taxis," or "auto-rickshaws," the three-wheeled vehicles that are common in the area. Mini-taxi drivers can expect to earn at least 6,000 rupees a month, ten times what a housemaid would earn.

Driving a mini-taxi offers the women more mobility, power, and discretion than many other jobs available to them. For the first time, they will be able to choose where they go and how to get there -- on the road, and in their own lives as well.

SPEED Trust trains volunteers for a period of three to six months, after which they can apply for a 3-wheeler driving license. After the women obtain their licenses, SPEED Trust purchases a mini-taxi and a public transport permit for them. The women repay their loans to SPEED Trust until they become full owners of their vehicles. SPEED Trust is tailoring this program especially to isolated women, widows, and women who are the sole income providers for their households.

$26.00 helps fund a microloan from SPEED Trust to a woman in India for her mini-taxi and public transport permit. $26.00 represents 1/100th of the cost of the vehicle. As of late December 2008, ten women have been trained and three more are being trained. Your support can help this grassroots program reach more people.

SPEED Trust (Slum People Education and Economic Development) is a charitable public trust which acts in the slum areas of Chennai, the fourth largest city of India. SPEED Trust works to improve educational levels for children, earning power for socially and economically deprived women, and independence and self-sustainability for all slum residents, without regard to their color, caste, sex, or religion.

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