By Mohammad Ekhlaque Ahmed

GEAR funded an Electrician, a resident of Korangi who bought tool kits to pursue his self employment. He started his work and doing fantastic. We gave him Rs. 15000 to buy tool kits and he was finding good customers and started making his livelihood well. He was very regular in returning the GEAR installment. We received seven regular installment of Rs. 1500 each, then there was a break. We asked the Volunteer, Imran: what happened to him. The Electrician did not give any reasons, rather attributed to the slackness of work and promised to resume the installment from the next month. This however, did not happen for consecutive several months.

GEAR Senior Volunteer accompanied Imran to get to the real reason for this disconnect. He met the Electrician who told him that he was doing wonderfully good till his fell severely sick and he could not manage the sufferings without selling off his ‘Tool Kit’ to pay doctor’s and medicine bills. We decided to give him another round of funding so that he continues with the ‘Self Employment’ but he did not agree to this proposal and said: After the default I sincerely feel next funding is the right of someone who has more desperate income gaps. He took up a job, we found later but could not return balance amount of GEAR loan which we wrote off.

GEAR management guided its volunteers to do more mentoring of GEAR partners with the following extended support:

1- Advice GEAR partners not to eat up their capital (never withdraw the principal money invested in the self employment)

2- Should he/she or any member of the family faces some emergency (needing medical assistance or any other issues), they must bring it to the knowledge of GEAR

3- After assessing the situation, GEAR will come with some different solutions (say in case of medical help, guide to free of cost hospitals/doctors or arrange treatment through Zakat fund). GEAR does have a small zakat fund to meet such exigencies of its partners.

Our mentoring on this issue continues and results though not optimal but improving gradually. To provide a structural solution to specially Medical treatment issues, GEAR is working with ‘Naya Jeevan’ to cover GEAR partners and their family members under a specially designed Islamic Medical Insurance. We are quite hopeful of a better outcome as a result of this strategic collaboration.

The writer is the President of GEAR (Generating Employment Alternatives for Self Reliance) and Assistant Professor at Institute of Business Management, Trainer, Speaker, Consultant and author.