Empowering Rural Women through Women Thrift Groups (WTGs)
Urban Indian women have been breaking boundaries and bringing International repute to India. But women in rural regions are still struggling to find their feet as equals in the society. Reliance Foundation is taking a small step through its initiatives in rural India to empower these women by making them self-reliant. Empowered women are ushering in the change.
The Reliance Foundation visited the villages and encouraged the community members to come together for village development. Various meetings were organized in the village, where the women learnt about ways in which they could improve their lives. The concept of Women Thrift Groups (WTGs) was introduced to women and explained how they can start by saving Rs.100 every month. This saving could help them during personal emergencies like medical situations, children’s school fees etc.
Gradually, they agreed to the idea and decided to start a thrift group. 30 women came together to form a group and started organising meetings. The women were educated on how these savings could help them in difficult times. A meeting is held among the women every month and each of them contribute Rs. 100 in the group. Thirty of them save Rs. 3000 every month. The loans are given out to the members at 2% interest rate. Due procedure of filling up vouchers and receipts and also maintain a ledger. Any member arriving late to the meeting is charged Rs. 10 as fine.
Over the years, many women have benefitted from the group. Many of them took out loans to buy a stitching machine and started sewing, their household income increased and now they have started earning Rs. 200 to Rs. 300. 13 WTGs have combined to form a group with collective savings of Rs. 8 Lacs to 10 Lacs.
Earlier, the women had not seen a bank or a post office. Now, they are well-informed about such matters and easily carry out transactions at the bank. The success of these women from nearby villages to follow suit and formed WTG in their own villages. Many of the women started small scale businesses such as poultry farming with the money they saved.
RF also promotes Women’s Thrift Groups (WTGs), aimed at improving the participation of women in rural transformation. This model encourages women to drive the process of socio-economic change by making them financially self-reliant and ensuring that they play an active role in decision-making. To promote self-reliance and success of the WTGs, RF focuses on capacity building of women, with a special focus on leadership development, documentation and processes.
The primary outcome is the emergence of empowered and self-reliant community-based organisations with robust membership bases and strong leadership. The uniqueness of the design lies in the co-creation and co-designing of solutions contextualised as per social, economic and ecological situations that are self-sustaining. Till date, more than 52,000 rural families have joined hands to form 529 VAs, to drive the village transformation initiative. Regarding the progress of WTGs, till date, more than 3,000 women have formed 106 thrift groups across 14 districts in seven states, having saved over Rs. 2.2 Mn.
Reliance Foundation strives not only to provide assistance but also confidence, and self-reliance, to turn today’s rural women into leaders of tomorrow.
Reliance Foundation is an Indian philanthropic initiative which was founded in 2000 by Dhirubhai Ambani. It is affiliated with Reliance Industries Limited and is one of the largest private foundations in the country. Reliance Foundation is the Top CSR spender for the third year in a row in the country.
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