Microfinance Solutions in Rural India

Shyamala Stickney - India.jpgShyamala Stickney

Host Organization: Mahan Seva Sansthan (MSS)

FSD Grant from PDCB Fund: $510.53

Host Community Donation: $77.26

The village of Kolyari sits 80km from Udaipur in a hilly and remote area characterized by its tribal population and recurring draught conditions. Self-help groups (SHGs) – a common Indian microfinance solution – provide the main strategy for economic development. SHGs, composed of local community members, can receive loans from banks at relatively low interest rates in India, delivering capital to rural villages for the support of microenterprise development, often led by women. All SHGs must undergo an assessment process to be assigned a grade level and only high grades can access large loans at low interest rates. It’s rural India’s version of a credit score.

To support Kolyari’s access to affordable loans, FSD intern Shyamala Stickney developed an SHG Credit Reach Training Program. The project improved the grade ratings of the SHGs that had been unsuccessful at achieving a Grade 1 rating. Shyamala’s organization – Mahan Seva Sansthan (MSS) – has been working with SHGs for 10 years and has long-established ties in the area. In addition to working on grade ratings, the training program also provided education for the MSS staff on methods to support microenterprise development at the village level.

91 villagers attended Shyamala’s two-day workshop in Kolyari – 31 more than expected. After the workshop, Shyamala compiled a training evaluation report composed of direct feedback from participating SHGs. The report, along with a trainer's manual (to be used by the MSS staff as a reference guide in future trainings), will support the sustainability of the program Future interns can use the report as a tool to assess the program's strengths and weaknesses, and as a starting point to interview SHGs about its long-term effects.

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