SELF HELP GROUP
A Collective Action
A Self Help Group (SHG) is a community based organization, typically a group consisting of 12 to 20 women from the same village and are autonomous collectives. The members are from the age group of 18 to 60. SHGs are run by their members, who chose their own leaders and bank account signatories. They decide on compulsory saving amount and save money on weekly/monthly basis and give credit to the needy members at low interest. They have weekly/monthly meeting.
There are 300 Self Help Groups functioning with the membership of 4650 SHGs which in turn had contributed to cohesiveness and solidarity of the groups. Group sustainability was strengthened by regular meetings, savings and timely repayment of loans.
The Integrated Community Empowerment Program staff in the ‘Facilitating Role’ nurtured the Self Help Groups by ensuring the leaders to follow the procedures and technicalities involved in the functioning of the SHGs, maintenance of documents, communications, discussions in group meetings, decision-making and implementation. They also continuously monitor the group.
An inclusive approach of relationship with one another, and the sense of support that they derive from one another with the monetary benefits has created a deeper sense of ownership of the initiatives and also a strong sense of empowerment and dignity.
In the rural villages the social impact was the most significant factor and the SHG acts as an agent for social change; women have become more powerful in their relationship with their husbands and the wider community. As the Self Help Groups are functioning in the local vicinity with collective efforts, towards the development of collective solutions the development gains are long-lasting and sustainable, the change achieved in a way empowers individuals, families and communities.
The key activities of the Self Help Group are savings and credit which are very supportive to the members towards economic empowerment. Also savings and Credit bind the Group members together and cements the unity. In the beginning of the program the members were saving Rs. 10/- per week and now each member is saving from Rs. 100/- to Rs. 300/- per month. All Self Help Groups are having Savings Bank account in Nationalized and Cooperative banks and having regular transactions. An approximate amount of Rs.2,69,62,275/- has been saved by the members and this amount is being rotated among the members.
Initial loans to members are usually funded by savings. Such loans are typically small and used for consumption or to repay existing debt borrowed at higher interest rates from other sources. The SHGs mobilize more savings, retain earnings, and often borrow external funds, enabling larger loans for consumption, investment and business purposes. In order to get internal loans the member needs to submit a written loan application which will be scrutinized in the group meeting and will be approved. Also Group leaders are getting promissory note as acknowledgement for the loans. The loan takers need to repay the amount to the group within 10/15 equal installments along with interest. All the groups are following diminishing rate of interest for the repayment loans.