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An article on “Women Empowerment through SHG Movement – SKDRDP Perspective”

Empowerment:  what can be said as empowerment?  Empowerment is nothing but making people more confident, more informative, more knowledgeable so that they can lead their life independently.  The real empowerment results in People independently taking decisions, taking care of family, health, educate children, and invest in economic activity.

Women Empowerment:   Among the developing countries, women play very limited role outside the family. All the financial requirements and important decisions in the family were in the hands of Head of the family i.e usually in the hands of man. She used to take care of the family and restricted herself to the domestic work.

But over the years and especially from the past three decades onwards there was a gradual development that women playing leading role in the family and also taking social positions, employment, become entrepreneur, more participation in community based programs. The Government initiative of globalisation and liberalisation and economy moving towards modernisation made this possible.  Similarly there was a new movement emerging which gave more confidence to women called self-help group movement which enabled women to access for various social and economic services.

Self Help Group:  Both Central and State Governments have given special emphasis for organising women into SHGs and connecting them into the mainstream of the society. As a result of this, today we see greater movement in this sector and it is proved that the SHGs are the right platform for financial inclusion of the people. Further, the loans borrowed by the women SHGs were promptly repaid and therefore, banks and financial agencies are now more reliant on the SHGs as a tool for lending money.

SKDRDP perspective: Shri Kshethra Dharamasthala Rural Development Project ® so far promoted 3.17 lakhs SHGs involving 35 lakhs members. More than 80% of SHGs are women SHGs. The organisation is working in 25 districts of Karnataka State. The members of the SHGs are engaged in various livelihood activities which fetches them income to their family. More than Rs.20000 crores have been disbursed among these SHGs and presently Rs.4000 crores of outstanding amount. Presently, Women are playing a leading role in maintaining the family financially sound.  She has come forward to take up livelihood activities and this is now supported by micro finance on large scale. The SHG movement led women to easy access to finance for her Income generating activity and enabled her to contribute for the family with special dignity.  SKDRDP motivates women to engage in livelihood activities which earn additional income to her family.

Organising women into Self Help Groups: SKDRDP is promoting and nurturing the women SHGs since 1993. Ten to twenty women members from either farming community or non-farming community constitute SHGs.

Enrolment and Bank Account opening: once SHG is formed the steps are taken for enrolment of the members for opening Bank Account. The data is captured in the device and Bank account opening form is filled. The SHGs are provided with bio-metric cards for Account operation.

Weekly meeting is mandatory. In the meeting financial transactions take place. The meeting takes on for duration of half an hour. Within this hour SHG financial transactions, books writing, discussion with regard to borrowing by the members takes place. SKDRDP follows certain discipline in SHG meeting. The SHG meeting has following proceedings:

  • Prayer
  • Selection of chairperson for the meeting among the members
  • Welcome
  • Financial Transaction
  • Cash collection and remitting cash to bank
  • Resolution book writing, accounts book writing
  • Sending SMS
  • Discussion with regard to borrowings and outstanding balances
  • 10 minutes other discussions
  • Talk by chairperson
  • Vote of thanks
  • One member to facilitate the meeting proceedings.

Likewise each member take up the responsibility and this is shared on rotation basis. The discipline is maintained throughout the meeting. The discussion will take place in a very democratic way and SHG is having full discretion to take decision in the meeting.

This has basically contributed for the confidence building among women. The weekly meeting has contributed for the overall personality development of the members also.

Capacity building training first three months of formation:  the first three months after formation of SHG is earmarked for capacity building of the members. In order to inculcate financial discipline and credit culture, SKDRDP, designed 6 training modules which are very much essential for the smooth running of the SHG. SHG concept and weekly meeting, Leadership, SHG Book Keeping and resolution writing, submission of Loan proposals to the Bank, SMS, and preparation of Farm Plan/Family Financial Budgeting are the 6 training modules developed by SKDRDP for SHG members. It is mandatory for the SHG members to get all the training before applying for any financial proposal to the Bank.

Preparation of five year family financial budget Plan with Annual Plans: immediately after formation of SHG, the members need to draw their five year financial budget of their family. This is to ensure that there must be definite purpose for which funds are borrowed and utilised. Of course, the actual development is possible only when there is definite plan. The purpose of investment is immaterial but availing credit and utilisation as per the plan is very important. While drawing the plan, the filed animator guides the member to identify the priority of the family so that unnecessary expenditure/investments are avoided.  While preparing the plan the animator helps members to identify the opportunities for development of the family.

Financial linkage based on family financial budget Plan:   The SHG members eligible to borrow money from the Group based on their family financial budget plans. Each member’s annual plan is recorded in the SHG resolution book. Based on the repayment capacity and amount of savings in the SHG, the lending amount is decided by the SHG.

Constant Capacity Building:  SKDRDP developed 20 training modules for building capacity among the SHG members.  The ultimate objective of organising people is to make them self-reliant and sustainable.  The training modules were designed of small duration and are very simple and easily understandable. The local people were designated to train the SHG members in the local language. In addition, the members who opt for self-employment, they are linked to the training organisations. SKDRDP also have ear marked budget for skill training where locally available skills are promoted and protected. It also helped members to venture business and earn more income to the family.

Awareness creation: In addition to capacity building, awareness on very important 6 topics i.e Family Welfare, Health and Hygiene, importance of Education, Nutritious Food,  Self-employment Ventures, Government Facilities and Supporting schemes, Legal Protection and Facilities specially for children and women   etc., are organised to women members. Every month one awareness camp is held to 50 to 60 women members under women empowerment program called “Jnana Vikasa Program”.  This program is implemented under the leadership of our Trustee Smt Hemavathi V Heggade, W/o Dr D Veerendra Heggade. The above 6 subjects are reclassified into more minute topics for providing deeper knowledge on the subjects. By looking into the local social and economic conditions, the topics are chosen. Women members are actively participating in this awareness camp.  This program has given platform to women to get knowledge, exhibit their talent and build confidence.

Introduction of individual livelihood activities /Group Enterprises/Micro Enterprise: once the members are organised into SHG and start their activities, the immediate basic financial requirements are met by borrowing from the Group. In order to increase the income of the households, the women members are encouraged to adopt livelihood activities in farm and off-farm sectors. Members are also encouraged to take up group enterprises/micro enterprises. SKDRDP has already initiated a Section 25 Company called “Shri Dharmasthala SIRI Grmodhyoga Ltd” as a platform for the products of such enterprises. The Products of SHGs are sold under brand name “SIRI”.

SKDRDP as Business Correspondent (BC) to Banks: Enabling women to organise themselves and make them more knowledgeable is of no meaning, if there is no financial support. Keeping this in mind, Dr D Veerendra Heggade,  Dharmadhikari of Shri Kshethra Dharmasthala and President,   SKDRDP  linked these SHGs into banks for financial assistance.

At present SKDRDP is working as BC for 10 commercial banks. For the smooth operation, SKDRDP has signed MOU with the banks. The SHG open bank Account and they are provided with the Cards for operating the Account. The President, Secretary and Joint Secretary of the SHGs are the authorized persons for operating the account. The deposit and withdrawal of money is enabled in the villages through collection centres managed by SKDRDP.

Steps:

  1. Enrolment of SHG
  2. The account is opened in the Bank
  3. SHGs deposit their savings in the Account on weekly basis in the Collection Centre. Transfer of data to the Bank Server and Settlement
  4. After eligibility period, the SHGs to submit Loan Application to the bank
  5. Bank process the Loan application, verifies the documents submitted
  6. Sanction of Loan and intimation to the project Office
  7. Bank credit the proceeds to savings bank Account in case of Term Loan and in case of cash credit method, the withdrawal limit is fixed and amount can be utilised anytime
  8. The member withdraw money as per the resolution of the Group
  9. Weekly repayment of loan in the Collection Centre, transfer of data to Bank server and settlement
  10. Bank statements to SHGs on quarterly basis

Under the arrangement, SHGs are able to get hassle free, quick, flexible and sufficient quantum of amount for their planned activities. Banks are cooperating with SKDRDP on special priority for lending money to SHGs. The Successful operation of BC was also possible because of the noble support from the Technical Service Providers viz. M/s FINO and M/s INTEGRA.

Cash credit method of lending:  Under the BC operation banks are allowing withdrawal limits to the SHGs under cash credit lending. This method of lending has proved very flexible method of lending to SHGs as the members could deposit money as and when they have surplus and withdraw as per the requirement.  The weekly instalment directly credited to the cash credit account. Therefore, SHGs have the benefit of optimum use of funds and gain margin in their internal lending.

Conclusion: Generally, there is a notion that organising people into Self Help Groups are the means for financial empowerment of the people, where people associate themselves and get financial support from the Government/Banks and engage in self-employment activities which make them   to withstand their life. But mere financial support is not the only way. Meaning thereby, people living in villages are lacking the knowledge about financial investment, returns, and interest rate aspects. Further, sometimes ignorance, with regard to technical aspects in agriculture, livelihood activities, and facilities available from the local governance etc., persists among the people. In addition to this, following some sort of discipline in the transactions is mandatory for the success of self-help group.  SKDRDP believes that developing this knowledge among the people result in advancing the efficiency and thereby, contributing for the transformation within.

Author: Smt Mamatha Harish Rao, Director, Human Resource Development Department, SKDRDP

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