Bonding over shared experiences: Sevabharathi National workshop for SHGs

Ranchi: SUNDAY, 03 MARCH 2013
Common struggles, common hurdles, but uncommon solutions are the buzzwords at the ongoing three-day national workshop of women’s self-help groups (SHG) in the Capital’s Jonha area. Organised by Seva Bharati, an RSS affiliated NGO from March 1 to March 3; the event was inaugurated by NABARD assistant general manager VK Chaudhary and senior national functionaries of the organisation.

Some 250 representatives of women’s SHGs in all the States of the country, including 42 delegates from various districts of Jharkhand are taking part in the workshop and discussions aimed at steering their ongoing work to a higher plane, while also equipping them with additional skills to better manage the day-to-day functioning of their ventures.

“The aim of this workshop is to bring together enterprising women from all parts of the country on a common platform where they can exchange ideas, share their experiences in making their SHG functional, including the obstacles they faced and how they overcame them. Through this interaction, the delegates will learn new solutions to common problems that many of them face, or get ideas about profitable ventures that they hadn’t thought of earlier or just learn new techniques and approaches to their own work,” said OP Kejriwal, the State head of Sewa Bharati.

Currently, there are over 400 SHGs of 10-15 women each in Jharkhand supported by Sewa Bharati under their Kalpataru scheme, which provides a loan of Rs10,000 — to be repaid at Rs250 per week — to start the SHG

Take Malati and Keshwanti of Tupudana, for instance. They were trained in making lac bangles and cloth bags by experts from Jaipur. Now not only do they make and sell these themselves, but have also taught some other women to do so and are now proudly heading their group. Similarly, there are representatives from groups engaged in making a range of products like pickles, jams, spice powders, poppadoms; or utilitarian products such as candles, pouches, bags, etc. There are also those who have ventured into growing mushrooms, broccoli etc in their villages, while some stitch clothes for readymade garment makers. Their products sell at the many crafts fairs and expos organised by various NGOs countrywide. One group from rural Ranchi even paid for an eye surgery on a child from their village out of their earnings.

However, while these SHGs have transformed their mostly unlettered women members by allowing them to take group decisions, avoid money-lenders and more importantly, making their families take notice, “many of these groups still need outside help in handling their accounts and finances. To address this need, the workshop will also provide participants a crash course in dealing with the banking and accounting functions of their group,” said Kejriwal.

“The point is to make them totally self-reliant and confident entrepreneurs. Even their families are proud of their work, and most of the delegates declined our offer of paying for their travel to Ranchi and paid on their own,” he added. The only set back is that fewer women from the Naxal-affected areas are able to embark on such ventures due to the fear of retribution and threats issued by the rebels.



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