Josna Rani: A Queen in Her Own Right

Rani, meaning queen in Bangla, lives up to her namesake. She was the oldest among her siblings in the remote village of Radhabalabh, 28 km from the nearest district town. At the age of 15, Josna Rani’s family married her off to a day labourer; being forced to do so out of socioeconomic circumstances.

It just so happened that NGO meetings were held every Tuesday near the small patch of land that her family owned. She would often sit in and listen to the conversations there, whereupon she conceived the idea of standing on her own feet financially, with the knowledge that NGOs give out small loans to people to help them build small enterprises.

She was however rather apprehensive before taking a loan from Friendship, afraid that her financial conditions were such that she would inevitably default. She took a loan out against her family’s cumulative farming efforts, being one of the few relatively fortunate enough to have implements to cultivate. The revenue she made from it paid for her instalments, with enough savings to buy a goat.

Soon after receiving training on vegetable cultivation from Friendship, she took another loan of Tk. 2000 and started homestead gardening, thereby meeting the financial and nutritional needs of her family. Soon after that, she managed to sell the kids that her goat had, and bought a cow instead. Making use of her success, she then loaned a boat worth Tk. 16,000. Money had started rolling in, slowly by surely.

She learned a pattern of re-selling and re-investment, and after selling the cow, she purchased 18% of her neighbour’s land, and paid off her last installment. She even managed to install latrines and tube-wells at home with assistance from Friendship.

At present, Josna’s household has three small cows and one goat. She even managed to build a separate shed for her livestock. Soon she had amassed enough wealth that she became the go-to person for business advice in her village. She made sure to tell other women from the village to be self-reliant, based on her own experiences. She helped many poor women in the area gather the courage to take a loan, having taught them to be self-motivated.

The local people now love to cooperate with her and honour her in different ways. Her youngest boy joined the masonry just as her eldest got married. She now hopes that her little boy will also earn and build a farm. Josna believes that willpower and faith can make a woman self-reliant, inspiring all those around her to believe in themselves.

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