Women in our Self Help Groups across the villages continue to empower themselves through the opening of bank accounts. The purpose is to have a common fund kept in the name of the SHG and then the SHG gives small loans to its members. With the accounts, the group can administer its order-of-business activities, income generation projects and support each other in acquiring savings.
In Nani Borvai, Gujarat, for example, women from an SHG recently arrived with pens and id photos ready. For them, to deal with bank infrastructure and process was a big step. In Ratanpur, Bihar, the women combined the task with starting their literacy training. They had to learn how to sign their names, or the bank would not allow them to open the account.
SHGs are kept in a size of about 10 to 20 members. Most of our villages now have at least one to three SHGs and in some places, there are many more. The SHG practice of “micro credit” has become a powerful way for low-income villagers to join forces and bring each other out of poverty.
Most self-help groups are located in India, though SHGs can be found in other countries, especially in South Asia and Southeast Asia. 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.