Self Help Groups (SHGs) are small groups of around 8 to 20 women. The Self help groups are formed after an adequate assessment of the profiles of its prospective members. These groups are autonomous bodies guided by a team member from headstreams. Once formed the groups meet twice a month. During the meeting the members discuss various matters that concern them and also do their micro savings. Loans are granted to members for any personal purpose depending on their savings.
The loan amount ranges from Rs. 3,000 to Rs. 10,000 depending on the savings done by the group. Issues concerning women such as Health and Nutrition, Domestic Violence, Education and Social security are discussed in the SHGs. Different Trainings and Workshops are also conducted in the group to allow the members to explore their talents and gain an understanding of different oppurtunities for livelihood development. Applications for livelihood development are considered and recommended to headstreams for financial assistance. Various celebrations like International Woman’s Day, World Environment Day and SHG Annual Celebrations are carried out by the groups through seminars, cultural programmes and exchanging gifts. This gives them a good opportunity to interact and showcase their different skills.
All decisions with respect to monthly savings, interest on loans, celebrations, workshops and the date of the meetings that happen every month are taken by the members of the group. A representative is elected by the members of the group who works closely with the headstreams team in maintaining accounts, organizing meetings and co-ordinate the overall functioning of the group.
Trainings and Workshops
- To maintain proper accounts
- To make decisions regarding cash flow and profits
- To make proper analysis of the profit
- To plan the development and progress of the business
The second part of the book keeping training emphasised on
- How to organize meetings
- How to maintain the Mother-Book
- How to keep track of savings and loans
- How to maintain the group account in the bank
Few of the trainings that are conducted are :
- Spoken English
- Paper Bag Making
- Cloth Bag Making
- Food and Hygiene
- Bamboo Craft Making
A seminar for domestic workers at Nellupuram was organised by the SHG women of the area. The seminar was led by Geetha Menon one of the founding member of Stree Jagruti Samathi and Domestic Workers Rights Collective Union. She discussed the details of the rights of domestic workers and the importance of collective bargaining.
Details of the central government scheme Rashtriya Swasthaya Bima Yojna (RSBY) were explained and 213 people have registered under the scheme.
The participants interested in livelihood development undergo two types of training – Entrepreneurship Awareness Programme (EAP) and the Entrepreneurship Development Programme (EDP).
Entrepreneurship Awareness Programme (EAP)
This programme gives them the inspiration and skills required to start their own business. Through the EAP training the participants learn about the different aspects of starting a business including its potential and pit-falls through examples. The members are then led through a brainstorming session where they are helped to identify suitable business ideas which would be viable for them to start.
Entrepreneurship Development Programme (EDP)
The EDP training is given to participants who have identified the business which they are interested in. The aim of this training is to guide participants to develop a business plan that will enable them to start and manage livelihood units.
Our observations showed that many of the woman borrowed money particularly during the months of April and May, to meet the educational expenses of their children. Their savings within the SHG’s did not suffice to meet these expenses and they were forced to borrow money at high rates of interest from private money lenders.
headstreams encouraged the women to set aside a certain amount every month for their children’s education rather than getting into a cycle of debt at the beginning of every academic year. The women were supported in working out the amount required for their children’s education at the beginning of the academic year and it amounted to Rs 6000 on average. We then encouraged them to save between Rs 250 to Rs 500 every month. This amount was deposited into the SHG’s Recurring Deposit with the bank. Many of the women struggled to make ends meet but they did save Rs 250 -Rs 500 every month. headstreams then stepped in with a matching grant as an incentive for all the members who saved the amount before the next academic year began.
Vidhyaabhivrudhi as a community and social sector partnership, has provided matching grants for 12 children for the academic years 2011-12 which grew to 110 children for the academic year 2012-13 and in the current academic year 2013-14 more than 200 children have already been enrolled.
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Foundation Course in Digital Literacy and 21st Century Life Skills
The Foundation Course in Digital Literacy and 21st century Life Skills is the result of headstreams’ work with women’s Self help Groups (SHGs). headstreams identified the need for a more specific skill-based training that would be relevant, not just for livelihood enhancement but for everyday lives in today’s society.Many of the women that headstreams works with were interested in continuing education and yet unable to commit full-time to it due to several constraints, both within and outside their homes.
Headstreams publicised the course through the existing Self-Help Groups in A. Narayanpura. 40 out of 60 applicants were selected for the course, the criteria being basic minimum schooling and the cut-off point being PUC. The 40 women who were selected were from low-income and marginalised communities with close to 80% of them not completing their schooling, one-third of them dropped out before reaching middle school, 3 out of 4 were unemployed, while the rest were involved in part-time employment.
The Foundation Course was held in two batches of 20 students each. It began in mid-July 2014 and concluded with a valedictory on the October 30, 2014. The Course was scheduled in two time slots – 10.00-11.30 a.m. and 1.00-2.30 p.m. The course was conducted three days in the week. The course content included digital literacy, communicative English and life skills while the content delivery included puppet shows, role plays, presentations, discussions, life-skills exercises, projects in MS-Office and a study tour to the Planetarium.