Creation of New Type of Producer-Consumer Relationship and Common Property Resources Through the Linkage of Urban-Rural Women’s SHG (PCUR-LINK project)
The project titled “Creation of the new type of Producer-Consumer relationship and common property resources through the Linkage of Urban-Rural Women Self-Help Groups” was implemented by Mura no Mirai (formerly as SOMNEED) from 2004 to 2007 under JICA Partnership Program.
The project mainly focused on the women SHGs in the slums located in the urban and suburban area of Visakhapatnam city, and it aimed to: 1) improve SHG members’ basic skills (e.g. management skill); 2) establish the new type of producer-consumer relationship; and 3) increase SHG’s income and create common assets (common property resources).
Who We Serve – Self Help Group (SHG)
SHG in India is a group formed by 10-20 women among low-income families. In India, the total number of such groups was more than two million as of year of 2006 and out of which more than half a million SHGs were found in Andhra Pradesh.
The principle of SHG was originally and ideally that each member of a group would regularly deposit fixed amount as savings into the group’s designated savings account known as the group fund. Group funds can provide loans to the members, while the amounts, rates and purposes are decided by members themselves. Besides low interest and efficiency, the main advantage of this mechanism is that the interests won’t flow out of the group. At the same time, the group will meet regularly to discuss the issues faced by the members and come up with the solutions. Moreover, the bank can lend loans to the groups, and this model is called SHGs-Bank Linkage. The loan amount is much larger than the individual’s credit line, and the group members has a collective responsibility for the repayment of the loan. (The project did not involve in the SHG-Bank linkage)
The Situation Before Mura no Mirai Came
In 2003, Mura no Mirai and its local counterpart NGO “SOMNEED India” and “Mahila Action” made a study of SHGs in Visakhapatnam. The results showed that there had been many SHGs, established by local/international NGOs and Government programs, that aimed to make it easier for women to access bank loans and thus to improve local women’s living conditions.
Nevertheless, though called self-help groups, most of SHGs’ operating activities, including book keeping, organizing meetings, hosting fund-raising activities and so on, were done by NGO staffs and Government officers, rather than the group members. Those members heavily relied on NGO staffs while making excuse of their low-educational background. In addition, the chance of receiving loans was not able to fit every member’s time of need because bank loans were funded to the group as a whole, instead of to members individually, and it also increased in the dissatisfaction of SHGs’ members.
Moreover, owing to the lack of participation, most members had little knowledge about the status of the group they belonged to, or the profit/loss of themselves.
In short, on account of all the factors above, women in the slums were struggling with poor cash flow as always.
In order to enhance the effectiveness of SHG, Mura no Mirai entered into the slums in Visakhapatnam city and started the PCUR-LINK project with women in the slums, with the partnership with SOMNEED India and Mahila Action, who had rich experience in SHG programs.
|PCUR-LINK Project Opening Ceremony|
|First workshop: What is “Self-Help”?|
|Visit and inspired by “Akshaya Bank”|
|The 66 Visakhapatnam’s SHG representative visited Akshaya Bank, a united organization of CFDA and SHGs in Chennai. Since that the women in Visakhapatnam started to initiatively come up with ideas of doing operational activities that were formerly done by NGO staffs.|
|The 1st Selection of PCUR-LINK Partners|
|Only the SHGs that put all the 10 objectives, planned by the members, into practice can become the PCUR-LINK partner and participate in the training workshop. However, only 3 SHGs met this prerequisite.|
|The 2nd Selection of PCUR-LINK Partners|
|At this time, 5 SHGs were selected. The project provided tanning about fund utilization and accounting to all the certificated SHGs.|
|The Establishment of VVK (Visakha Vanitha Kranthi)|
|The women of slums decided to establish an association that ran by themselves. The establishment of the association called VVK is decided during the meeting among the 7 selected SHGs. Since then, the organization’s name, location, rules, and all the operating details were discussed and decided by those VVK members during their monthly meetings. Mura no Mirai provided some capacity building trainings, including accounting basics, as asked, and the NGO staffs could only speaks when permitted during the meetings.|
|The first business of VVK – Sari|
|After several personal market researches, the VVK members decided to start their first business – selling Sari in the Pongal Festival, and asked Mura no Mirai staffs to organize some trainings about budget accounting. However, due to various reasons, the sari business became a failure. The VVK members discussed the causes of this failure during the following meetings, and became more eager to learn more business skills.|
|Recover from VVK’s crisis|
|During the establishing process, several founding SHGs quitted which lead to decrease in the number of SHGs from 9 to 4 finally. The remaining 4 SHGs decided to set up a membership system and started to motivate certificated SHGs to join, by asking other women around member’s own neighborhood and using their personal networks. And the number of members started to rise again.|
|The 1st VVK members’ general meeting|
|The registration of the organization is finally completed. Also after the V-Shaped recovery of membership, the memorable first members’ general meetings were held semiannually.|
|Craft Material Research and Development start|
|Mura no Mirai helped the local people to export the resources they gathered to Japan. The resource is once deserted as garbage.|
|Semi-annual achievement report in the general meeting|
|By that time, the number of VVK membership groups increased from 4 to 20|
|The official registration of VVK bank finally succeeded|
|The first general meeting after official registration|
|The review of the 3-year-PCUR-LINK project|
|VVK members produced and acted a performance to present the project’s impressive process in front of the JICA evaluators.|
Activities and Achievements
- Mura no Mirai (formerly as SOMNEED) provided technical support to women’s SHGs to establish the Visakha Vanita Kranti, which was registered under Andhra Pradesh Mutually Aided Cooperative Act.
- Mura no Mirai introduced the Craft Material Business to VVK. VVK in collaboration with rural SHGs in Srikakulam District, Andhra Pradesh (Pogadavalli and Mamidijola villages) collected materials, including unused vegetable leaves and roots, which could be utilized as handicraft materials in Japan, and exported them to Japan.
- Mura no Mirai developed local VVK members into trainers, who helped other SHGs to prepare balance sheet of the group, and let them realize the importance and process of micro credit activities.
- Mura no Mirai organized several capacity building workshops, trainings and exposure trips to strengthen decision making abilities of women, enhance their knowledge of consumer needs, and improved their management skills.
- VVK progress for 4 years
Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) Partnership Program
JPP is one of the technical cooperation program schemes under Japanese Official Development Assistance (ODA). The program is formulated by Japanese NGO and implemented with the collaboration with local NGOs.
After the end of the PCUR-LINK project, Mura no Mirai continued to provide termly capacity building and technical support to VVK as asked, and all the operation, performance evaluation, and other activities are all done by VVK members.
At 2009, following the expansion of VVK, Mura no Mirai started an enhancement project to strengthen the VVK’s capacity, as shown in VVK phase 2.