NABARD - 25 Years Of SHG Movement - page 3

uarter century is not a long time in the history of a nation
that is many millenniums old. But for 100 million rural
women the last twenty five years of SHG movement
have been like a leap through centuries. A small step
in innovative banking turned out to be a giant step for women
empowerment. For those of us, who have been part of the SHG
movement, it has been an exhilarating and satisfying journey
that has taken us through the huts and hamlets of India. It gave
us moments of both joy and occasional despair, but in the end,
there was the determination to take the movement forward from
strength to strength.
The initial action research project of NABARD with MYRADA in
1987, convinced us that what the poor wanted was primarily to
safe keep their thrift and that loans for livelihoods can be better
appraised and customised by the members of the group. It also
established that timely and hassle-free access to micro credit
was more important than the rate of interest on such loans. A
lot of preparation and research went into the launching of the
pilot project in 1992. RBI became possibly the first central bank in
the world to allow opening of savings bank accounts of informal
A home grown microfinance model, way different from the other
models adopted and practiced world over, was about to unfold.
A unique savings led, self-managed, door step financial inclusion
and bank outreach programme with least transaction costs and
participation of community at its core was mainstreamed in
April 1996. At NABARD we dreamt of providing financial services
to more than a third of India’s rural poor through 1 million SHGs
in ten years, beginning from the year 1998. But within a period
of eight years of mainstreaming, 10.79 lakh groups were credit
Being the largest coordinated programme with participation of
more than 30,000 bank branches, more than 5,000 NGOs and
H. K. Bhanwala
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