SHGs confer many benefits, both economic and social. SHGs enable women to increase their savings and gain access to credit which banks are increasingly willing to lend. SHGs can also be community platforms from which women become active in village affairs, stand for local elections or take action to address social or community issues like the abuse of women, alcohol, the dowry system, etc. Local women have been mobilized and 22 Self Help Groups (SHG) have been formed comprising 221members of whom the majorities are from social and economic backward sections.
These SHG groups have been helped in building capacities and sustaining livelihood by promoting savings, reducing dependence on moneylenders. It has resulted in financial inclusion and social security to women enabling them to take loans for livelihood, their children’s education and during emergency health issues. Members now understand the importance of saving, are more confident in dealing with financial matters and hold regular monthly meetings. SHG leaders have been trained in effective management of their groups. Some members have also started income generation trades through SHG loans.Kusumba Jadeja , 40 years old, Tunda village Bandhani Worker
“Self Help Groups have given us a voice that women couldn’t have before. It has lead to social harmony amongst different community members in the village. As a group we realized we are all working towards each other’s economic betterment. This group has led to higher savings and more internal lending. We have a democratic approach to give out loans to our members. We take loans for important occasions, health emergencies and for our children’s education. I am confident in dealing with financial issues now. Being a part of a larger group has given us confidence to voice our opinions to the Panchayat, about development and social issues in the village. We have received a Rs. 50,000 grant from the Government under the Mission Mangalam program which has given us a new spark of hope and light in our lives, made possible, because of CGPL”.Kachannba Jadeja, 51 yrs old, Tragadi village SHG Group Leader
“I have been heading the Ashapura Sakhimandal from the last two years which has 20 members. Earlier an angawadi worker used to guide the group. There was no capacity building of the members, the anganwadi worker used to collect the money and deposit it in the bank and we were not given regular accounts. A project to strengthen our SHG was started by CGPL. With this intervention we were given basic accounting and leadership trainings. We were also taught how to organize meetings, write minutes of the meeting, and check the balance of accounts. We were taught how to allocate responsibilities of the group among its members. All the 20 members pay Rs. 50 towards the group and we deposit the money in the bank. The bank is in Mandvi which is quite a distance from the village. This exposure to go to a city on our own and deal with all the banking requirements has made us independent women. I myself went to ask the bank the whole procedure to apply for the funds under the Government’s Livelihood Promotion program. The savings we collect work as our shield during hard and unforeseen times. We don’t have to get loans from an external lender who usually charges excruciating high interest rates. To maintain regular attendance at our monthly meetings, we charge a fee of Rs. 10 for anyone who doesn’t attend the meeting. These meetings also work as a platform to discuss social and health issues in our village. We take the collective voice of women SHG members in the village to the Panchayat and through this we have got the gutter line fixed, formed the dairy and ensured safe drinking water in the village. I now understand the magnitude and benefit of Lok Bhagidari (Collective participation)”
Leelaben Parmar , 48 year old, Mota Kandagara Village. SHG Group Member
“I used to iron clothes for nearby areas before starting my own grocery store. I had no savings before and had to regularly take loans as my husband wasn’t keeping well and also for my children’s education. Two years ago my SHG was formed. In the beginning each member paid Rs. 50 which now has increased to Rs. 100. I feel being part of an SHG makes women reap benefits of savings cumulatively and increases their economic strength as a group. Being a part of an SHG I am extremely confident in dealing with financial matters and discussing matters pertaining to savings and investments which is very unlikely for women in the village. Being a part of a group has made all the women eager to learn and teach each other. I used the savings to invest in my shop. I invested Rs. 5000 initially and then reinvested Rs. 30000 for which I took at Rs. 2000 per month loan; which I recently finished paying. The SHG has made sure that I will never need to beg for money from any money lender now”
Laxmiben Popatlal Rajgor , 38 year old , Mota Kandagara Village SHG Group Member
“The benefit of being a part of a SHG is that all women are woven together and save in a combined fashion, loans are easily available and money is easily accessible. Before the SHG, I never took interest in financial matters as it was the job of the male counterpart in the family. I never had loans or insurance. Due to my SHG membership, I recently took a Rs. 20,000 loan for health reasons. The SHG has educated and trained us and we move out of the house more often. More opportunities for home based work should be created which will give us additional income and savings. Economic as well as social freedom of women needs to increase in the village and SHGs is a good step in that direction.”
Skill Training for Women
Kutch is famous on international levels for varied arts and crafts. With a little handholding & training the Kutch art & embroidery is now being used as a sustainable livelihood option and make women self- reliant.
Dhanbai Hathi , 30 years old, Nana Bhadiya village Embroidery Cluster Member
“Skill development is one of the best forms to equip women for livelihood options. I have been doing embroidery work from the last 12 months. I had no knowledge about different forms of embroidery but with the training from CGPL I now have perfected most of the forms. I now work from home and make a living. The training has helped me understand designs and color combinations better and now I give others suggestions on their designs too. These trainings have improved the quality of my work and products, thereby fetching me higher prices and income.”
Dudia Ramjubhai , 20 years old, Nana Bhadiya village Embroidery Cluster Member
“I am pursuing my 1st Year BBA currently. I am proud to be one of the few girls in my village who has the opportunity to go to a college. With my conviction and zeal I don’t miss any opportunity to learn. I attended the embroidery workshop organized by CGPL. I had very basic knowledge in embroidery before the training, now I have a much better understanding and my speed in the work has increased tremendously. The classes have given us a space to interact with girls and women from other communities which has increased community cohesion. Such trainings have also increased income prospects for girls in the area.”
Puranba Jadeja, 15 years old, Tragadi village (Respondent is deaf and interview was taken with her family member) Tie and Dye Cluster Member
“Puranba is my relative; she is deaf so she couldn’t study after 3rd standard as the teachers weren’t equipped with tools to teach her. She is a strong and confident girl who did not have a way to utilize her time and talent. She remained bored and frustrated before she undertook the tie and dye training organized by CGPL. She picked up the art very quickly and her speed is tremendous such that she doesn’t even need to constantly look at the cloth. She can now make productive use of her time while getting a steady income. This training has worked as a boon for her since she has an outlet to showcase her creativity. This has made her an earning member in our family and keeps her occupied, content, focused and happy.”