Swathi Jyothi is a microfinance institution that supports the economic empowerment of women in sex work in Bangalore, India. It has been established by Swathi Mahila Sangha, a collective of women in sex work, with the support of Vrutti, a Livelihoods Resource Centre.
These women live in difficult circumstances — most of them in sex work out of desperation, not a choice. Many of them have no secure housing – some of them live on the streets or in brothels. Many are not able to give their children a decent education. They earn money but have no formal system through which they can accumulate savings or borrow credit. They are not easily able to access mainstream financial services ‐ mainly due to the stigma attached to their occupation and lack of relevant documentation.
Swathi Jyothi helps build the financial literacy of the women and offers them, women, a range of financial services — savings bank accounts, recurring deposit accounts and short term loans. It also helps them access long-term loans and insurance through mainstream banks.
Currently, Swathi Jyothi has reached 4,200 women in sex work — helping them save and send their children to a better school, find more secure housing and in some cases even start their own business and come out of sex work.