Belagavi Zilla Panchayat will help members of self-help groups to become micro-entrepreneurs by providing them training in skills.
The zilla panchayat is approaching NGOs to train women members of rural groups. Mostly from poor families, they save money every week, and lend a part of it among themselves. Most of them are now getting bulk loans from banks. This amount is further divided among the members and given away as loans.
“There is immense scope for entrepreneurship development among rural women in the district. We believe this can be tapped by skill development,” R. Ramachandran, zilla panchayat chief executive officer, told The Hindu. “We are looking at shoe-string enterprises where women use locally available resources and create saleable products. It can be dairying and value-added dairy products in some villages, backyard poultry in others, minor forest produce-based products in taluks with thick vegetation and handicrafts or khadi or food items elsewhere,” he said.
As a first attempt, the zilla panchayat will tie up with Siddha Event and Marketing Institute to train women in making incense sticks, Dhoop and mosquito repellents. The institute, which runs a social business, will provide raw material and machines and buy back finished products from the women. The training will be free. Logistics support will be provided by the zilla panchayat for various training sessions. “We started with the idea of training farm widows, wives of farmers who committed suicide. We are now extending vocational and entrepreneurial skill training to SHG members,” institute founder Dilip Kurundwade said. “There is a widespread opinion that the SHG movement is an incomplete revolution. Experts have hailed it for its success in financial inclusion and reaching the unreached, but it is yet to promote entrepreneurship in rural areas. Hence, the need to train them,” Mr. Kurundwade said. He has studied the market scope and begun negotiations with buyers. “As of now, we are telling the SHGs that we will buy everything they produce,” he said.
Micro financing through SHGs has been hailed as the saviour of the poor. A NABARD study in 2010 called it “the fastest growing economic movement in the world” with 400 women joining it every hour.
In Belagavi district, the micro finance movement covers around half of the eight lakh families in the district. There are around 4.2 lakh members in the 20,000 SHG groups in the 10 taluks.
It has seen rapid growth, with an average of 15,000 members joining the movement through 1,000 groups every year.
It started with around one lakh members in 7,100 groups in 2000, and now, there are 4.2 lakh members in nearly 20,000 groups in the district.
A group has an average of 20 members. They are financially active.
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