What is “empowerment”?
By introducing the story of project in urban slum in Visakhapatnam, Andhra Pradesh
Micro finance approaches have emerged in India in 1980’s involving the provision of thrift, credit and other financial services and products, with the aim to raise income levels and improve living standards and particularly to provide access to credit to those who are neglected from formal lending. The most significant among these microfinance approaches is a nationwide attempt, pioneered by Non-Governmental Organizations (NGO) and later supported by the state.
Micro finance through Self Help Groups (SHGs) is propagated as an alternative institution of the disadvantage who believes in self-help to come out of disadvantages by exercising collective will and power.
Since Dr. Mohammed Yunus founded the SHGs for Grameen Bank in Bangladesh in 1975, field has spread with the adaptation and evolution of Prof.Yunus’ idea to various countries and context. The UN Year of Micro Credit in 2005 indicated a turning point for micro finance as the private sector began to take a more serious interest in what has been considered the domain of NGOs.
We, Mura no Mirai and SOMNEED India in 2003 had recognised the rapid increase of number of SHG in Visakhapatnam and the financial situation among women in slums which lead them to borrowing money. And the situation of SHG did not mean the real “Self-Help” Group, but “Seek-Help” Group.
In such reality, however, Mura no Mirai and SOMNEED India noticed that women have money and potentiality to manage their SHGs by themselves. The inputs given during 2004-2007 and 2010 -2011 by us proved that they could manage their funds by realizing the power of internal fund rotation. A federation established and named VVK (VisakhaVanitha Kranthi Mutually Aided Cooperative Thrift Society) during project was promoted and started lending in 2006 with an amount Rs.55,000 from 50 members and that had now crossed its rotation to Rs.70 million and 3,000 members and totally being run by them without any external help.
What made possible to change from “Seek-Help” Group to real “Self-Help” Group and which finally led to the stage of formation of federation, VVK, by slum women?
How can micro-finance activity improve the women’s situation especially in urban slum?
This seminar will be organised into 2 parts; the part 1 is the introducing our method and activities during our 4 and half years project which made it successful that women now can run a bank with millions of money and thousands of members, and part 2 is the discussion with participants about other case studies on micro-finance experiences.