Making a House a Home in India

Let me introduce you to Runu. Runu is a wife, a mother of five, a business owner and a client of Mahashakti Foundation, one of Kiva’s Field Partners in India. Runu has been a client of Mahashakti for a long time. She started with a small loan of just INR 10,000 ($160) which she used to buy a sewing machine to start a tailoring business. After repaying her first loan, she applied for a second, larger loan to finance a business for her husband, who is a welder. They used the money to open up a welding shop.

Runu with the sewing machine that she purchased with her first loan.

Since then, Runu has taken out three more loans from Mahashakti, completing five loan cycles with each loan bigger than the last. She and her husband have used the extra income to send their kids to private schools and have even been able to put money away for the future.

As their businesses have grown, so have Runu’s dreams. About five years ago, Runu and her husband began planning to build a house for their family. Last year, they bought the land, built a workshop for her husband and started constructing the foundation for their home. For her family of nine, Runu envisions three rooms plus a kitchen and bathroom. Though this may seem like insufficient space for Runu, her husband, her in-laws, and five kids, it is what they can afford for now. As responsible investors, she and her husband have allotted about INR 300,000 ($4838) for the house.
Runu standing where her new house will be. The building behind her is her husband's workshop, which will be connected to the house.

For the past year, Runu has been asking Mahashakti for a loan to help her with the cost of building her house. However, there was one problem. Mahashakti didn’t offer housing loans. Though it’s possible that Runu could get a loan from a bank, she has a 5 year relationship with Mahashakti. She knows them and has confidence that they will treat her fairly and with respect. In turn, they trust her to repay.

Though Runu and her husband have now reached a level of income that allows them to rent a small apartment, many Mahashakti clients live in what are called kutcha houses. Kutcha houses are made of bamboo, mud, home-made terracotta tiles and whatever other raw materials people can gather from the nearby forests. Clients living in kutcha houses also want housing loans to pay for new floors, plaster and roofing improvements and housing extensions. 

A kutcha house in Western Orissa.
A man and woman building a kutcha house as the sun goes down.

This spring, Mahashakti decided to respond to growing demand from clients like Runu by starting to offer a housing loan product. They will finance this new loan product with the help of Kiva lenders. For some clients like Runu, the loan will help them to realize their dreams of home ownership. For others, the money will be used to make their house more of a home. 

You can find loans to clients like Runu here

About the author

Darcey Tindall

Originally from Atlanta, Darcey graduated from Tulane University with a bachelor’s degree in International Development and Political Science. While at Tulane, Darcey had the opportunity to travel throughout South America, including a semester abroad in Chile. She became interested in microfinance in 2011, when she led a group of students on a trip to Nicaragua to meet with entrepreneurs, businesses and nonprofits as part of a greater investigation into various methods of spurring economic development. After graduation, Darcey spent time as a member of AmeriCorps working with the Boys and Girls Club of New Orleans, before becoming a Kiva intern and briefly working as the Kiva Fellows Program Coordinator. After almost a year of sending other great people out on Kiva Fellowships, Darcey is excited to finally have an adventure of her own. She will be serving with WSDS-Initiate and People’s Forum in Eastern India.