Jignasha Bera is one of the members of the Rameshwar Self-Help Group, which is one out of the 103 SHGs in the Maliya-Hatina village of Gujarat’s Saurashtra region. Her husband is the sole earning member of the household, a street hawker who prints and sells bags.
Due to the low demand in Maliya-Hatina, he frequently had to juggle between varieties of items to sell. This caused a constant deficit in income, and thus, he was unable to provide basic needs at home.
Jignasha, being an SHG member, was eligible to receive loans from the group. Although her husband was not keen, she took the initiative to support him by taking a loan of Rs 10,000 from her self-help group.
The amount helped in stabilising her husband’s business.
Further, after repaying her first loan from the business profit, she again took a loan of Rs 25,000 from the SHG’s Community Investment Funds (CIF). This time, her husband also supported Jignasha and, soon afterwards, they were able to repay the loan.
According to her husband, “It was all because of Jignasha’s financial support that we were able to send our children to school and save money for household expenditure as well.”
In response to this, Jignasha said, “We wouldn’t have been able to sustain the business without the financial help from the SHG.”
This is not just a story of one woman getting economically empowered; it is about having power in unity and using it for progress.
There are hundreds of similar stories, where women are improving the financial condition of their families by supporting their spouses or starting entrepreneurial ventures of their own. These are eventually stories about women participating in decision-making processes and improving community economy.
These stories Maliya-Hatina began in September 2015, when the Rizwan Adatia Foundation (RAF) decided to adopt the village for holistic development. Under the programme, the foundation facilitated village-level institutions by forming and strengthening Self Help Groups to address conventional gender roles and inequality.
During the first phase of the activity, from December 2015 to January 2017, RAF formed and sustained 103 Self Help Groups (SHGs) in four villages, which reached out to nearly 1,200 women members.
The second phase of the project, from January 2017 onwards, aimed to strengthen the sustainability of existing SHGs by creating business opportunities by linking them with government schemes.
Since August 2015, through self-help groups, women have been able to save Rs 19.04 lakh and distribute internal loans worth Rs 57.76 lakh cumulatively.
The group has also inculcated a sense of saving vis-à-vis increased financial literacy among the members. Through continued advocacy at the Block and District levels, the groups have been able to mobilise Community Investment Funds (CIF) and Cash Credit from the Government of Gujarat and nationalised banks amounting Rs 32.5 lakhs, which is further being invested by women in business ventures or distributed as loans to members in need.
In July 2018, the 103 Self Help Groups registered a record cumulative turnover of over Rs 1 crore.
Rizwan Adatia Foundation (RAF) currently works in Asia and Africa in education, health and economic inclusion. RAF understands that investing in women’s economic empowerment not only supports in mitigating poverty, but also promotes gender equality, which directly impacts overall health and the education of family as well as the community. Hence, Rizwan Adatia Foundation promotes gender as a foundation to bring sustained impact in all the sectors.
(Edited by Shruti Singhal)