Sunday, 12 August 2012

Self Help Groups

Ramesh, Jairam: Self-Help Groups Revolution: What Next? Economic and Political Weekly 42, 36 (2007): 3621-24.

This article discusses the existing scenario and changing face of SelfHelp Groups (SHG) with special reference to the state of Andhra Pradesh (AP). SHGs are conceived as entities for saving and borrowing, linked to processes of social mobilization and empowerment in rural areas in particular.

According to the author, the success of SHGs in Andhra Pradesh has been facilitated by the existing federal structure: each SHG of 10-15 women members is federated into a Mahila Mandal Samakhya, which in turn is federated at the district level to form a Zilla Samakhya. It is this unique combination of a federal structure and the principle of subsidiarity from government which makes Andhra’s SHG movement a trendsetter.

Besides its original purposes, SHGs in Andhra are taking up certain new responsibilities that lie at the core of livelihood security for the poor: for instance,
-the marketing of home/agricultural produce commodities;
- developing direct linkages with exporters and processors;
- the timely disbursement of pensions;
- purchase of dairy livestock;
- and non-pesticide techniques in agriculture.
- traditional land development works and soil and moisture conservation,
- horticulture and agroforestry plantation.
In addition, SHG institutions in Andhra have played a useful supporting role in Social Audit, for instance, in the National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (NREGA). Working closely with the village panchayats, they help in fostering social mobilization and empowerment of the rural population, women in particular.  The article concludes that SHGs such as those in AP not only enhance financial security, but also create alternative livelihoods.

Sooryamoorthy, R.: Microcredit for Microenterprises or for Immediate Consumption Needs? Sociological Bulletin 56, 3 (2007):401-13

The author finds that a large majority of women SHG members had used loans for their immediate needs, rather than for SEM.  In order to make women members economically independent and to assist them in earning a stable income, they need to be encouraged to use loans for SEM (self-employment micro-enterprises). While the literature on microfinance suggests that women have the potential, skills and ability to succeed in micro-enterprises, two things are required for success:
(i) a general and visible improvement in the living conditions of the members after they have joined the group and availed themselves of credit; and
(ii) the creation of a realization that the use of loans primarily for immediate needs cannot bring about a steady improvement in their living standards and hence that they need to initiate some form of regular income-generating self-employment enterprise.
(iii) The self-help groups also need to provide support services (financial and managerial expertise) on a sustained basis at every stage, beginning with the start of SEM initiatives.

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