Financial Inclusion and Sustainability

SWATHI JYOTHI: Securing a financial future

Financial compulsions often drive women into sex work. The financial quagmire worsens if women do not know how to manage money or do not have access to financial management mechanisms. Women are offered more money for sex without condoms and financial insecurity could compel them to take on such offers, thereby increasing their risk of contracting HIV. In addition, the volume of clients and the amount that women are able to charge is also dependent on financial security.

Some money issues faced by women in sex work include:

Recognising the need for saving and credit, self help groups were started within Pragati project. In a matter of months, it became evident that the self-help group model was not suitable for the women in sex work in Bangalore who were largely street based.

A microfinance institution

After deliberations and consultations with experts, during which several institutional models to provide financial services to women were considered, Swathi Mahila Sangha decided to form a microfinance institution in the form of a cooperative society. The Society was launched on 1st of December 2006 registered as Swathi Jyothi Mahila Vividhodesha Souhardha Sarkari Niyamita, under the Karnataka Souharda Act (1997), in September 2007.

An independent board was established in October 2007 to steer and guide the activities. Savings products were offered from December 2007 and credit services started in March 2008. The products offered are:

Salient features of Swathi Jyothi:


Swathi Jyothi has made a beginning. Some of the changes that are visible are:



"I have money in the bank and can refuse un-safe sex; I don’t have to worry about my next meal" – Member, Swathi Jyothi

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#52, 4th Main, Postal Colony,
Bangalore 560094,
Karnataka, India