SHGs are a common development tool used around the globe to organize those who are economically disadvantaged to facilitate financial inclusion.
An AVAG Self-Help Group is a collective of 15-20 men or women, all from the same village who voluntarily decide to form a group. This group begins to make collective savings, with every member depositing a fixed amount of money on a monthly basis, until the total savings are large enough to begin internal lending.
By being part of a group, members are able to lend each other money in times of need instead of resorting to the service of local money lenders who charge unreasonably high rates of interest often causing lifelong indebtedness.
Self Help Group Mobile Banking
As a collective, the group also has access to banks and is eligible to receive microcredits.
- SHGs have particularly caught on in southern India where 57% of the country’s 2.2 million groups have been formed. Although AVAG’s network of approximately 287 Women’s SHGs and 60-70 Men’s SHGs may seem like a drop in the bucket, it is important to understand the practices that make AVAG’s SHGs unique.
- Unlike other organizations, AVAG does not just use SHGs to administer a microfinance programme but also helps members with capacity building skills and working on community development which is essential for individual empowerment.
- SHGs also form a forum for discussions, which foster crucial aspects of responsibility, solidarity and cooperation.
- Each SHG has an Animator (who facilitates group discussions), and two Representatives (who handle bookkeeping and administration). These positions are elected and rotate every two years, giving each member the opportunity to take a leadership role. AVAG offers regular trainings to increase the capacity of SHG leaders.
- Single women are encouraged to take up leadership positions.