Microfinance for women’s Empowerment

1986 and on going

After a series of drought during 1984 to 1988, the tribal communities in Dungarpur suffered a lot due to their dependency on forest and rain-fed agriculture for livelihood. The voracious moneylenders took the advantage of the situation and imparted loans to the tribal on very high rates. Tribal mortgaged their lands and jewelry to the moneylender for loans.

Women became the worst sufferers as they lost their jewelry, land and other valuable assets and the men migrated to the nearby industrial towns to work as daily wage labors. Women were left to take care of the rest of the family without any proper source of livelihood, PEDO realized to work on the issue and decided to work with the tribal women’s Self Help Groups (SHGs).

The two major Principles adopted for the operations and management of the Microfinance Program are:

  • Social Sustainability: It should be managed by people themselves, so that it can continue functioning even after PEDO’s
  • Financial Viability: It should generate sufficient revenue as profit to meet the operational cost of program

PEDO started with 10 groups at beginning in 1987 and today has a network of about 2400 women’s SHGs, with more than 45,000 women SHG members.

Structure of the Microfinance Operations:

Self Help Group of 20 individual members

Cluster of 20 SHGs

Microfinance Federation of 8 clusters

A Woman’s status in society have risen after her involvement in a SHG, and even her husband has started to listen to her more since she is the one who has got some savings in the banks and can take the loans. However, in many cases, the constant struggle for daily survival is still there, but perhaps things have gotten a bit easier now that the woman can turn to her SHG group rather than greedy moneylenders. Alternatively, perhaps her husband can afford to live at home for the first time after years of migrating to neighboring, industrial state- Gujarat, for work. A woman can plan about what she can do now to support her family; it may be a small business or purchase a water pumping set for her farms or anything that can help her to gain her stature, which she deserves, in the family and society.

Help people to help themselves has been PEDO’s mission statement since the inception of the organization. Community led and owned micro-finance was considered a major step towards achieving the objective of Promotion of sustainable people’s institutions. This step was also required to reduce people’s institutional dependency, on promoting Agencies like PEDO. Besides this PEDO wanted formal financial institution to recognize and treat the rural poor as potential clients and bring them in the mainstream economy.

PEDO worked with two very important aspects while farming an exit policy- Social viability and financial self-sustainability.

PEDO has a set  withdrawal Policy, to gradually transfer the roles and responsibilities to the members and their leadership. For establishing the network linkage between the federation, Cluster and SHG, PEDO acts as a monitoring and promoter agency. After a certain level of experience of the member and leadership in the network, PEDO gradually turn itself into a facilitator. The structure that already exists is allowed to function with PEDO as more spectator and facilitator, if required. Then over a phase of outside monitoring PEDO finally moves out of the operation and let it function independently, this process requires capacity building measures. These measures are applied at SHG, cluster and federation levels.

Today, PEDO’s all the twelve federations are community owned and managed. As the salaries of employees come from the federations, PEDO’s micro-finance staff is now employed by the Microfinance staff is now employed by the Microfinance federations. PEDO has registered the Microfinance federations as independent agencies under the society act, 1958. The community contributes almost 1.75 crore every year as operational cost for the micro-finance program.

Microfinance Program in Figures as on December 2015.

  • No. of SHGs: 2,543
  • Total SHG members: 42,444
  • Total Loan distributed: Rs. 1,13,24,50,682