Women's empowerment through community-managed Micro-finance Institutions is one of the key programs that PEDO has implemented in the district. After a series of droughts from 1984 to 1988, the tribal communities in Dungarpur suffered a lot due to their dependency on forest and subsistent agriculture for livelihood.
The voracious money-lenders took the advantage of the situation and imparted loans to the tribal at very high rates, mortgaging their lands. PEDO determined that it is best to collect the women in groups to raise their voices, as they become the worst sufferers. The land was lost, men migrated to the cities and the women were to manage the household, resource-less. And therefore, we realised to work on the issue and decided to work with the tribal women’s Self Help Groups (SHGs).
PEDO started with 10 Groups in 1986 and today has a network of about 3,318 women’s SHGs, with about 56,077 women SHG members. This network directly connects and benefits about 3,00,000 people belonging to the most backward communities in about 420 villages of the district. 100% of the SHG members belong to the Bhil tribe and are below the poverty line. A woman's status in society may have risen after her involvement in an SHG, or perhaps her husband just listens to her more since she is the one taking the loans and providing the money. And in some ways, the constant struggle for daily survival is still there, perhaps things have gotten a bit easier now that the woman can turn to her SHG group for support.
It is incredible to see what some of the SHG members have accomplished with the provisions of the Micro-finance program. Around 18,000 tribal women have become livelihood contributors through women. About 5000 SHG members have established retail shops. There has been a major investment in agriculture, education, health, livelihood, and housing.
There are hardly any defaulters, and if there are then the community gets together to help that person out. Community-led and owned micro-finance was considered a major step towards achieving the objective of Promotion of sustainable people’s institutions and reduction of poverty. This step was also required to reduce people’s institutions’ dependency on Promoting Agencies like PEDO. From the inception of any SHG, it is informed to the members and leaders that the hand-holding will last for a certain duration and PEDO will help them learn how to function without its support. The capacity-building exercises of the individuals involved in Micro-finance operations, may it be the PEDO staff or SHG members or leadership, are beset to the self-sustainability and community ownership aspects. The period of hand-holding generally lasts for three to four years.
All of the SHG federations are completely self-sustainable, socially accepted, community managed, and financed besides being separately registered. PEDO’s micro-finance model is well accepted in the country by the other NGOs and the government.
MICRO-FINANCE PROGRAM IN FIGURES as on March 2021:
No. of SHGs: 3,318
Total SHG members: 56,077
Total Savings: Rs. 29,79,71,522
Saving loan Outstanding: Rs. 23,85,97,005
Bank loan outstanding: Rs. 1,38,95,304
Outstanding Loan from Corpus: Rs. 4,01,13,372
Revolving Fund (Corpus): Rs. 15,50,15,000
Cumulative loan distribution till March 2021: Rs. 1,54,61,53,845
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