NABARD, through its Micro Credit Innovations Department has continued its role as the facilitator of microfinance initiatives in the country. The - vision of the department is to facilitate sustained access to financial services for the unreached poor in rural areas through various microfinance innovations in a cost effective and sustainable manner.
NABARD has been continuously focusing on bringing in various stakeholders on a common platform and building their capacities to take the initiatives forward. This has resulted in tremendous growth of the microfinance sector in India through different approaches -which are discussed below.
Self Help Group – Bank Linkage Programme (SHG-BLP)
Based on the observations of various research studies and an action research project carried out by NABARD, the model of ‘SHG-BLP’ has evolved as a cost-effective mechanism for providing financial services to the unattended and underserved poor households. What started as a pilot to link around 500 SHGs to the formal financial institutions during the year 1992-93 has now become the largest microfinance programme in the world, in terms of client base and outreach. The SHGs which follow ‘Panchsutras’ viz. conduct of regular group meetings, regular savings within the group, internal lending based on the demand of members, timely repayment of loan and maintenance of proper books of accounts are considered to be of good quality and over years have proved themselves to be good customers of Banks.
The NGO sector has played a prominent role of working as a Self Help Group Promoting Institution (SHPI) by organising, nurturing and enabling credit linkage of SHGs with banks. NABARD later co-opted many others as SHPIs including rural financial institutions (RRBs, DCCBs, PACS), Farmers’ Clubs (FCs), SHG Federations, Individual Rural Volunteers (IRVs) etc. These stakeholders were encouraged to take up promotion of SHGs by way of promotional grant assistance from NABARD. This savings led microfinance model has now become the largest coordinated financial inclusion programme in the world covering almost 100 million households in the country. With more than 84% of the groups being exclusively women groups, the programme has provided the much needed push to empowerment of women in the country.
Other than championing the movement and providing promotional support, NABARD has enabled an entire ecosystem of support through policy advocacy at Bank and Government level, organising and sponsoring a large number of training and capacity building programmes, seminars and workshops for the benefit of all the stakeholders, viz. bankers, Government agencies, NGO partners and more importantly SHG members themselves. Banks are also provided 100% refinance support by NABARD for financing of SHGs.
Product level changes like allowing voluntary savings in the group, sanction of cash credit/ overdraft system of lending to SHGs, allowing formation of JLGs within SHGs, improving risk mitigation systems, building second tier institutions of SHGs, etc. were brought in subsequently to address operational issues emerging from time to time. Further, to enable SHG Members to take up livelihood activities, NABARD has been supporting Micro Enterprise Development Programmes (MEDPs) and Livelihood and Enterprise Development Programmes (LEDPs) for SHGs.
NABARD is implementing/supporting implementation of various Schemes announced by Govt. of India viz. Promotion of Women SHGs (WSHGs) in backward and Left Wing Extremism affected districts of Ministry of Finance, National Rural Livelihoods Mission (NRLM) of Ministry of Rural Development.
Financing of Joint Liability Groups (JLGs)
Financing of JLGs was introduced as a pilot project in 2004-05 by NABARD in eight states with the support of 13 RRBs. The scheme was later mainstreamed for the banking system in the year 2006. JLGs are informal groups of four to 10 members who are engaged in similar economic activities and who are willing to jointly undertake to repay the loans taken by the Group from the Banks. JLGs basically are Credit groups of small/marginal/tenant farmers/ asset-less poor who do not have proper title of their farmland. Regular savings by the JLG members is purely voluntary and their credit needs are met through loans from financial institutions and such loans could be individual loans or group loans against mutual guarantee.
Apart from extending refinance support of 100% to the financing Banks, NABARD also extends financial support for awareness creation and capacity building of all stakeholders under the Scheme. NABARD also extends grant support for formation and nurturing of JLGs to Banks and other JLG Promoting Institutions (JLGPIs).
NABARD, while promoting NABFINS had envisaged that NABFINS shall evolve into a Model Microfinance Institution to set standards of governance among the MFIs, operate with exemplary levels of transparency and operate at reasonable/moderate rates of interest. It is a NBFC – MFI which commenced its operations in November 2009.
NABARD is the major shareholder of this MFI, others being Government of Karnataka, Canara Bank, Union Bank of India, Bank of Baroda, Federal Bank and Dhanalakshmi Bank. NABFINS extends loans to SHGs through its own trained Business & Development Correspondents (BDCs). NABFINS also extends loans to other second level organisations like the Federations. NABARD is continuing its refinance assistance to NABFINS. Further details regarding NABFINS can be seen from www.nabfins.org
It has now been decided to support NABFINS as JLGPI for direct linkage with NABFINS to avail the grant assistance from NABARD.
Support for training and capacity building of clients
Giving due recognition to training and capacity building of various stakeholders such as bankers, NGOs, Government officials, SHG members and trainers, NABARD has trained around 45.52 lakh participants as on March 31, 2021, in the process, giving shape to a strong back up team for implementation of the programme.
Micro Enterprise Development Programme (MEDPs)
NABARD, since 2006, has been supporting need-based skill development programmes (MEDPs) for matured SHGs which already have access to finance from Banks. MEDPs are on-location skill development training programmes which attempt to bridge the skill deficits or facilitate optimisation of production activities already pursued by the SHG members. Grant is provided to eligible training institutions and SHPIs to provide skill development training in farm/off-farm/service sector activities leading to establishment of micro enterprises either on individual basis or on group basis. Cumulatively, 5.22 lakh SHG members have received training through 18,434 MEDPs with total grant support of ₹ 35.10 crore as on March 31, 2021.
Livelihood and Enterprise Development Programmes (LEDPs)
As skill upgradation trainings alone have limited impact on livelihood creation among the SHG members, it was thought prudent to create sustainable livelihoods among SHG members and to attain optimum benefit out of skill upgradation. Thus, a new scheme titled Livelihood and Enterprise Development Programme (LEDP) was launched in December 2015. It envisages conduct of livelihood promotion programmes in clusters. There is provision for intensive training for skill building, refresher training, backward-forward linkages and handholding as well as escort supports. It also encompasses the complete value chain and offers end-to-end solution to SHG members. It is to be implemented on a project basis covering 15 to 30 SHGs in a cluster of contiguous villages where from SHG members may be selected.
The skill upgradation training is provided in batches of 25-30 members and covers agri and allied activities as well as rural off-farm sector activities. LEDP will not only facilitate promotion of sustainable livelihoods but also derive full advantage from promotional assistance. NABARD will provide grant support for skill upgradation programmes, establishment of demonstration unit and need-based critical infrastructure. LEDP has been mainstreamed in May 2017. Cumulatively, 1,36,098 SHG members have been supported through 1284 LEDPs as on March 31, 2021 with a total grant support of ₹ 63.33 crore.
Pan India LEDP TO NABFOUNDATION
A unique Pan India LEDP "MY PAD MY RIGHT" covering 35 districts was launched on the International Day for Rural Women i.e. 15 October 2020, through NABFOUNDATION. The project was launched by Smt. Smriti Irani, Hon’ble Minister for Women and Child Development and Textiles with Padmashri Shri. Arunachalam Muruganantham, who has designed the award winning low cost pad making machine and who IS the Technical Partner for the project.
Under this project, LEDP channel is used to provide livelihood opportunities to SHGs through sanitary pad making machine with the required training skills for producing and marketing the pads. Apart from generating livelihood for the concerned SHGs, project aims to improve the menstrual hygiene accessibility for women in rural India. During the year, against total project outlay of ₹ 1.99 crore, an amount of ₹ 1.54 crore has been utilized, 28 machines installed and production started in various districts.
Revision in JLG and MEDP/ LEDP guidelines
With a view to make enterprise and livelihood programmes more effective, MCID-NABARD updated the guidelines under MEDP and LEDP. The programmes now includes JLG members as participants, provision of daily stipend to participants, additional training on market linkages, e-marketing, branding and packaging, demonstration unit and issuance of Training Certificates for enabling participants to obtain Bank loan to set up enterprises. The grant assistance has been enhanced for MEDPs from ` 0.50 lakh to ` 1.00 lakh and in case of LEDPs, from ` 6.43 lakh to ` 8.80 lakh (Farm Sector) and from ` 4.98 lakh to ` 7.15 lakh (Off Farm Sector). The grant assistance for formation and nurturing of JLGs is enhanced from ` 2,000/- to ` 4,000/-.
Scheme for promotion of Women SHGs (WSHGs) in backward and LWE districts of India
Subsequent to the announcement made by the Hon’ble Finance Minister in the Union Budget 2011-12, a scheme for promotion and financing of Women Self Help Groups (WSHGs) in association with Govt. of India is being implemented across 150 backward and Left Wing Extremism (LWE) affected districts of the country since March-April 2012. The scheme aims at saturating the districts with viable and self-sustainable WSHGs by involving anchor agencies who shall promote and facilitate credit linkage of these groups with Banks, provide continuous handholding support, enable their journey to livelihoods and also take the responsibility for loan repayments. Under the Scheme, in addition to working as an SHPI, the anchor agencies are also expected to serve as banking / business facilitator for the nodal implementing banks.
To facilitate implementation of the Scheme, an exclusive fund viz. ‘Women SHG Development Fund’ was set up by Dept. of Financial Services, Ministry of Finance, Govt. of India in NABARD with a stated corpus of ` 500 Crore Grant support @ ` 10,000/- per SHG to the Anchor agencies and also the cost of publicity, training and other capacity building initiatives is met out of this fund.
As on March 31, 2021, the total number of WSHGs promoted and credit linked are 2.11 lakh and 1.29 lakh respectively.
Support for activities, introduced in the last Financial Year, like Gram Dukan, funding of impact assessment studies, films, exposure visits, publications, exhibition, melas, promotion of tie–ups for marketing etc. improved off-take from ₹ 725.42 lakh in 2019-20 to ₹ 759.72 lakh in 2020-21.
Collaboration with other Stakeholders
NABARD continues close coordination with all stakeholders in SHG BLP sector. Coordinated efforts like conduct of National-level seminars and workshops, mutual dialogues and capacity building of stakeholders on SHG-BLP have now become very regular.
Conduct of Village Level Programmes (VLPs)
With a view to foster better understanding of mutual requirements between banks, SHGs & SHPIs and to sort out issues like credit linkage and repayment etc. at ground level, Village Level Programmes (VLPs) are being conducted with the support of banks and NRLM. These VLPs sponsored by NABARD are also helping in opening of SHG accounts, their credit linkage and regular loan repayments.
Status of Studies conducted by MCID
NABARD, since beginning, has been giving emphasis on research and development and studies in various fields to acquire new insights into the issues of farm and non-farm sectors, so that the findings can be used for formation of new policies, innovative products and approaches for further development in the sectors.
In order to improvise the policy inputs, MCID had commissioned eight studies with reputed agencies and as well as in-house. All the studies have been committed. The areas in which Studies were conducted, are:
1. Assessment Study on Joint Liability Group Financing in Andhra Pradesh
2. Impact and Efficacy of various livelihood initiatives for SHGs viz., MEDP, LEDP of NABARD and livelihood
3. Study on Sustainability of Long Standing SHGs (10-15 years) in Telangana State
4. Study on MSME-Micro Housing Lending by Micro Finance Institutions (MFIs)/ Small Finance Banks (SFBs)
5. Study on improving livelihood opportunities for Joginis and Women Affected by Trafficking in Anantapur district of AP through SHG and other Promotional Schemes
MCID has been bringing out films on a regular basis to disseminate the progress achieved by rural women entrepreneurs, who got assistance from NABARD.
Some important films that highlight the concepts and successes of SHGs are listed below: