Millions of defaults threaten future of microfinance in India

The Japan Times 

In February 2020, unaware the coronavirus pandemic was about to wipe out her livelihood, Arpita Das borrowed $2,300 to buy materials and equipment for her family fishing business in West Bengal, India. A few weeks later, demand for her prawns collapsed, leaving her unable to make the $180 monthly repayments to two microlenders. The 33-year-old mother of two, who had never missed a payment since she started borrowing three years earlier, is now living off the vegetables and grains she grows on a plot of land outside the home she shares with her husband and his parents. With the whole family out of work, they are unlikely to have any income unless she can borrow $1,400 for this year's prawn harvest. During India's initial three-month lockdown, one of Das' lenders would call her regularly to see how she was doing.

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