Men’s SHG Programmes
The Men’s SHGs originated as Youth clubs in the villages in 1991. These clubs had a maximum of 20 volunteer members and concentrated on village development activities such as micro projects, service camps and conducting night schools. In 1995-96 these Youth clubs were registered as Men’s SHGs and the culture of collective savings was started.
In Tamil Nadu, it is quite uncommon for NGOs and banks to involve men in microfinance programs. This is owing to the unfortunate fact that men have not inculcated a culture of saving money and repaying loans as a part of a group. Over a period of time, through various counselling and training programmes, AVAG has brought about a change in this scenario and encouraged men to repay their loans regularly.
However, this has been an uphill task. Today, the men’s groups of AVAG are proud to be a part of a collective savings group and are able to internally lend amounts up to 60,000 rupees (as of 2016). On seeing this progress, banks have become more open to sanctioning loans to men’s groups. Consequently, the men now play a bigger role in fulfilling financial needs of their families.
The same integrated approach used with women is implemented with men, except for a few alterations tailored to fit the different roles of men in Tamil culture. These differences, it must be noted, reflect cultural realities that AVAG must adapt to. Therefore, an emphasis on entrepreneurship training for men rather than livelihood training for women is a major difference between the programs.
Issues of corruption and alcoholism, which disproportionately affect men, are prominent themes in AVAG’s work with men.
Sports festivals are arranged at the village level and government officials are invited, bringing locals together and providing a forum to discuss community challenges and celebrate past achievements.