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Chinna Pillai to embark on a major mission

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Chinna Pillai. Photo: R. Ragu
Chinna Pillai. Photo: R. Ragu

Vani Doraisamy

CHENNAI: The most recognisable face of Tamil Nadu's community banking movement,Chinna Pillai, leader of the Madurai-based Kalanjiyam Iyakkam, will soon be visiting Africa, the Netherlands and Mexico, spreading the message of Indian-style rural empowerment.

"For a movement that started with just Rs. 20 each from ten people, we now have four lakh members spread across nine Indian States, Rs. 100 crore in savings and Rs. 200 crore in revolving loans. The mission now is to enlist rural poor from other countries and inspire them to take up community banking," Chinna Pillai, who counts President Abdul Kalam among her admirers, told The Hindu during a recent visit to Chennai to receive the Doordarshan Podhigai award for meritorious social service.

Working out of Azhagar Koil, Madurai, the 63-year-old has travelled all over the country speaking to rural women about community credits and microfinance.

First stop

Senegal will be the first international stop, as per an MoU signed on October 2 last year between Dhan Foundation, the promoters of the Iyakkam, and FDEA, an African NGO.

"There have also been expressions of interest from South Africa after an NGO delegation from there visited us last year. We will soon be networking with NGOs in Tanzania and Ethiopia too and Chinna Pillai will be our resource person for all these initiatives," according to M.P. Vasimalai, founder and executive director, Dhan Foundation. "We have managed to sink caste differences in all villages where the Iyakkam is operating. We have taken the Panchayats too into our fold and worked in areas ranging from bus facilities to health services. This is a model that can inspire other developing countries too," Chinna Pillai adds. She will interact with NGOs in the African countries, using translator services.

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