National Case Study: Usha Multipurpose Cooperative Society Limited – Economic Empowerment for Sex Workers

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Usha Multipurpose Cooperative Society Limited (USHA) is the largest and the first ever sex worker-led financial institution in South Asia, exclusively run by and for sex workers. Steered by Durbar Mahila Samanwaya Committee (DMSC), a sex worker collective in West Bengal, India, USHA provides economic empowerment to sex workers by offering them loans at low interest rates, encouraging short and long-term savings and supporting self-employment schemes. The Cooperative that started with capital of just INR 30,000 (approx. $ 400) and 13 sex workers as its members, now deals with INR 30 crores ($ 4 million) a year and has a membership of over 30,000 sex workers from across the state of West Bengal.

USHA has demonstrated how financial inclusion and recognition of sex work as work empowers sex workers and allows them to access better health services and citizenship rights, as well as safer working conditions. This case study explores the history of USHA, its economic empowerment schemes, education loans, and how economic security leads to political leverage.

You can download this 6-page resource above. It is available in English.