Since the first of April 1999, the Indian government has actively been involved in helping the poorer citizens of the country in rural areas to create and maintain sustainable sources of income using their own skill, talents, and abilities.
The government has managed this gargantuan task through the launch and operation of the Swarnajayanti Gram Swarozgar Yojana (SGSY) scheme, which targets economically weaker sections of the society and helps them organize and establish Self-Help Groups. These micro-enterprises are funded by the government, NGOs, individual philanthropists, CBOs, banks, and other sources of finance.
The scheme establishes Activity Groups, grouping together workers based on their individual skills and talents. Under the SGSY scheme, funding for these Self-Help Assemblies and Activity Groups is routed through NGOs, banks, and monetary organizations with social outreach programs. Between 1999 and 2015, over 2.25 million Activity Groups and Self-Help teams have been created, and operate with a total capital of over Rs.14,000 crores, providing a sustainable source of income to over 6.5 million people.
How it works
Under the scheme, poorer families that were below the Poverty Line were organized into Self-Help groups, which were funded through a mix of government funds and small loans from banks. The primary function of the Self-Help groups was to help these families cross the Poverty Line, and generate a sustainable source of profits through a joint effort.
After the families were able to help themselves out of the scarcity line, the Self-Help groups were organized in such a way that every member of the group could contribute to the achievement of a common objective. Groups were organized on the basis of common skills, the skill level of the members, and the amount of time and work they could contribute.
3 Important Groups
- Group Creation: This involves process like enquiring and judging skills, selecting individuals and assigning people to groups based on the skill level of each member.
- Capital Creation: A rotating fund system is adopted for capital generation, and skills are allowed to develop through experience.
- Implementation: Abilities and group skills are created and developed further as the process functions at the group’s chosen speed, limited usually only by level of skill.
Self-Help Groups are formed after a process of selection. The BPL (Below Poverty Line) Index / Inventory is acquired from the Gram Sabha and used by the organization to choose appropriate members based on its own criteria. The groups are then assimilated into blocks focussing on the group’s primary output capabilities, and allowed to work with funding from banks, individual philanthropists, Panchayati Raj organizations, and the like. Regular festivals and melas are organised by the government, in an effort to help the Self-Help Groups sell their output / goods to a larger audience and create a market in the process.
Funding and Training
The maintenance, education, and funding for these groups comes from NGOs, philanthropists, CBOs, banks, organizations promoting self-aid, and District Land Development Agencies (DRDAs) that are owned by the government.
Some of the institutions that offer funding mentioned above also offer training and education facilities to group members, and organize their own teams based on the training required for a particular Self-Help Group’s specific skill.