The book contains outputs and findings of a study conducted by the author in the latter part of 2011 for ACCESS Development Services. It is based on secondary research undertaken for the study and the author’s own extensive engagement with primary research on Self-Help Groups (SHGs). The study undertakes both a substantive historical examination of the evolution of SHGs and their federations in India as well as a comprehensive review of ongoing issues and recent concerns related to their microfinance operations.
The book provides a typology of the SHGs engaged in financial intermediation over the past two decades and the objectives with which they have been formed and supported. It revisits the key objectives of NABARD in selecting the SHG methodology as a programme for the unbanked poor and assesses the outreach and performance of the SHG–Bank Linkage Programme (SBLP). It also examines the progress of both state government initiatives and those of other self-help promoting agencies (SHPAs) in developing replicable models for financial intermediation and microfinance plus activities.
In particular, it covers the experience of financial federations of SHGs, their relevance and quality and the constraints to their effective functioning. Similarly, it examines the role for SHGs and SHG federations in government-supported poverty alleviation and wider livelihoods development programmes.
Finally, the study reviews the existing state of affairs in respect of the SHG banking and addresses the question of what should be the next phase in the development of SHGs. It identifies the policy gaps and opportunities that exist for SHGs to be mainstreamed further into the formal financial system. It concludes with a discussion of proposals and institutional arrangements for the continued growth of SHGs as an agency for change in the rural sector of India.