Self Help Groups

We have facilitated the creation of over 300 Self Help Groups in the Villipuram District over the span of 15 years. 

Self help group is a voluntary association of the economically backward women from a similar socioeconomic background .They come together for the purpose of solving their common economic and social problems through self-help and mutual help.

In our nation, usually the people under the poverty line, during the time of their emergency rush to the door of the Landlords and Money Lenders to accomplish their credit requirements and this comes usually at a very high interest, people are facing number of problems while repayment of their loans, because of these lenders actions and quandaries many people commited suicide.

In order to avoid these circumstances, meet the emergency need the Self Help Groups (SHG) evolved. Members of the SHGs started savings as the prime work and this savings of the members opened the way for different income generating activities.

The practice has especially caught on in Southern India where 57% of the country’s 2.2  million SHG’s have been formed.

Members make small regular savings contributions over a few months until there is enough capital in the group to begin lending. Funds may then be lent back to the members in need.

Collective of 15-20 women or men who had no access to the formal banking system become members. Separate groups are functioning exclusively for women in promoting their empowerment ,self dependency and economic status.

The group also consists of people who had physical disabilities, economic backwardness and widows who were left uncared. There is no discrimination among members on the basis of caste, colour, creed, religion or political contacts

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.

Unlike other organizations, We don’t just use SHGs to administer a microfinance programme but also to help members with capacity building skills and community development which are essential for individual empowerment.

  • SHGs form a forum for discussions, which foster crucial aspects of responsibility, solidarity and cooperation.
  • Using the SHG Network for delivering Government schemes and conducting training programs.
  • SHGs as tool for combating Social Problems –
  • SHGs as Business Units – The units moving forward from being micro-finance units which mainly does savings and credit for the bottom of pyramid, to gradually becoming strong and stable institutions and have the financial resources and social capital to build small business enterprises.
" Our mind set is shifting from material-based values to immaterial values, thanks to the meaningful relationships formed with each other "
- Krishnamala

Women’s Power Project

As AVAG’s most successful endeavour, the Women’s Power program has been working to address issues of gender inequity in the target areas since 1996.

Rural Tamil Nadu holds many ‘traditional’ values, which legitimize the subordination of women. The male child is often valued more, and his nutritional, medical and educational requirements given priority over his female siblings, who are expected to help as much as possible around the house whilst their brothers play and go to school. For this reason many women are disadvantaged from the day they are born and are often lacking the necessary confidence, support and resources to further themselves or their families.

WPP uplifts the position of local women by providing the requisite tool set to fight multiple layers of oppression that hinder their empowerment. Most women access WPP through SHGs, although some programs reach many women not directly affiliated with AVAG.

In a strongly patriarchal society such as here, these efforts are particularly required and effective among women’s groups since they provide an opportunity for them to step up to positions of authority where they can exercise their sense of responsibility and independence.

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Men's Self Help Group

Formed with the guidance of AVAG senior staff, who help in training men  for activities that benefit the society as a whole.

The Men’s SHGs originated as Youth clubs in the villages in 1991. These clubs 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 inculcate 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, We have brought about a change in this scenario and encouraged men to repay their loans regularly. Issues of corruption and alcoholism, which disproportionately affect men, are prominent themes in AVAG’s work with men

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 as against livelihood training for women is a major difference between the programs.
Self Help Groups
total savings by SHGS

Stories of Hope

men planting

Most of these club members are students who have carved their attitude to work for the development of their village. They constructed Speed breakers in the cement road. They fenced the Vanur – Government hospital with the help of Vanur self help groups coordination committee.

Last year they conducted cycle rally insisting peace and prosperity in the world in the Auroville Bioregion. It is one of the club saving the money in the bank. They have good relation with the clubs and are always ready to help the clubs in doing the village works.

women carrying-needs cropping
The stagnating water jeopardized the Panchayat tap provided for this village for drinking purpose. The club took the job of providing a solution for this problem. They planned to provide with cement slabs to all the street taps. The project of construction of tap pillars and soak pit to drain the water was done successfully. Now the village enjoys the benefit of a clean surrounding. Also provision was made to drain the rainwater. After this work the road is free from stagnating water.

This club has got a revolving fund and activity loan of Rs 5,54,000  under SGSY scheme and 22 members of this club were given milch animals under this scheme.

Women usually find it difficult working outdoors. The women of this club demonstrated that everything is possible  by constructing the first floor for the village school situated in their area. The notable part of this work is that it was completed without the help of men.

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