Promoting women self-help groups (SHGs) and building their capacity to bring about a change in their socioeconomic life has is a crucial aspect to promoting development in rural India. About 20 SHGs have been functioning for the last few years in the four villages around the periphery of Essar facilities in Orissa; most of them offer saving and credit services through banks.
However, in the course of interactions with these SHGs, the Essar team observed that their effectiveness was severely impaired due to several reasons:
- Most of the SHGs don’t follow standard operating procedures (SOPs)
- Meetings have been quite irregular and a few groups have become defunct
- The formation of SHGs has not been based on any clear-cut goals and objectives
- Lack of professional support to set the goals and objectives of these groups
Having identified the problems, the Essar team adopted a two-pronged approach to work with these groups:
- Strengthening existing SHGs by setting up proper systems for them
- Formation of new SHGs with SOPs to propagate the concept in an 'area saturation' approach
As a result of this intervention, three new SHGs were formed, involving 41 women, while seven existing groups of Dabuna village have accepted the SOP designed by our CSR team.
To boost the confidence of these SHGs, an event was organized on November 27, 2011, to distribute books of accounts (cash book, minutes book, cash box and individual pass book). Motivated by this gesture, the women decided to contribute toward the cost of items like cash boxes and stationery items. Over 100 women from 10 different SHGs in the area were present at the function. S Ramesh, VP-Essar Steel, Dabuna, distributed the material to each group.
By the end of the function, several requests came in from people of other
villages who were present at the occasion, to organize similar programmes in