Community Development - Self Help Groups
Our goal is to have economic improvement and social reform through development of economic conditions with livelihood programs, eliminate gender discrimination against women and eradicate discrimination of caste, economic condition, religion or level of education against all villagers.
The Community Development Division (CDD) focuses on the overall growth of economically and socially marginalized villagers, particularly women in 196 villages of Anupshahar. Our programs have widespread social, financial and livelihood benefits and a large-scale, far reaching impact. The programs are wholly owned and run by the women SHG (self-help group) members and are intended to be financially self-sustaining in the short term and independent in the medium to long term.
SHG clusters are formed of adjacent villages, one cluster consisting of 10 groups. Clusters are designed for the women to meet similar individuals from other groups and share ideas, resolutions and friendships outside of their own group.
Having elected 2 women from each cluster, the SHG members have created the Shakti Sangathan (SS), a women’s federation, currently represented by 24 women. 4 Samitis (Committees) consisting of six women members each, focus on the four following areas:
-Health, Hygiene & Sanitation and Women’s Rights & Entitlements
-Non-Dairy Commercial Enterprises
The women will be the owners and sole beneficiaries and over time, manage the above programs.
The activities and structure of Shakti Sangathan are designed in a way to be sustainable, scalable and replicable.
Through the medium of the federation management, the women are involved in the decision making for all programs with determination, enthusiasm and conviction. After the initial management hand-holding, the women will learn to independently make decisions. The ultimate goal is for the women to be owners of the micro-enterprises and take on management roles. The federation’s role is to consolidate the programs and activities.
The structure of the Community Development Division is as follows:
- Each SHG member saves 5 rupees a day, which accumulates to 150 rupees for each woman at the end of the month. This helps to create a unity of purpose, financial discipline and have a means to address some financial concerns. The money they save stays within the self-help group (SHG), in a locked box; the box with one member and the key with another. Every few days, money is deposited in their SHG bank account, accumulating interest over time. The transactions are recorded by the women themselves in a register, teaching them basic financial recordkeeping.
- During their monthly meetings, the women discuss several topics including social and economic issues prevailing in their individual homes and on a community level. Discussions surround problems the women can relate to and help them come together in times of need for their fellow SHG members.
Frequently, the women are in need of monetary support for unexpected situations. In the past, our women would go to the moneylender who charges almost 50% interest to these women, and tarnishes them of their respect in the process. To address this, the women inter-loan amongst themselves, collectively deciding whether a woman or family is in need and if the reasoning for requesting a loan is appropriate. The loan is given to the woman at a 2% interest rate to be paid back within the time frame she proposes. The interest on the interloans is common income for the women, including the borrower. As a result, the women are not incurring exorbitant interest payments to the moneylender.
- Bank linkages
- Each SHG, with a unique name, is supported to open a bank account operated by the three elected Mukhiyas (leaders). The accounts are opened at a government bank before the third month’s savings are collected. We educate the women to take bank loans only after they have created a strong bond among themselves, to ensure strong financial discipline.
- Life insurance options will be provided for the women and their husbands in small amounts between 30,000 to 50,000 INR. The plan for micro-insurance will be implemented after one year of the individual SHGs up and running.