Socio-Economic Empowerment of Urban Women through Community Based Institutions – SHG-Federations

Socio-Economic Empowerment of Urban Women through Community Based Institutions – SHG-Federations

Project Summary
Elevator Pitch

Concise Summary: Help us pitch this solution! Provide an explanation within 3-4 short sentences.

To promote appropriate organizational structures to address and meet financial needs of women by promoting their community level, micro finance institutions

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Positioning of your initiative on the Mosaic of Solutions™ diagram:
Which of these barriers is the primary focus of your work?

Non-affluent are not valued customers

Which of the principles is the primary focus of your work?

Prove that social return doesn’t preclude financial gain

If you believe some other barrier or principle should be included in the mosaic, please describe it and how it would affect the positioning of your initiative in the mosaic

This field has not been completed. (333 words or less)

What is your signature innovation, your new idea, in one sentence?

To promote appropriate organizational structures to address and meet financial needs of women by promoting their community level, micro finance institutions

Describe what makes your idea unique—different from all others in the field.

Development organizations have formed and worked with SHGs in the rural areas and the concept of urban SHGs was slow to catch on. Urban activities have been fewer in number and precise documentation of their performance has not been attempted. DST commenced its operational program in the urban areas primarily to test the feasibility of the Self Help Groups (SHG) / Federation model in the urban environment. DST’s perception of promoting urban SHGs was not restricted to encouraging only the economic aspects but also as a tool for socio-economic empowerment. DST follows the credit plus approach. This decision to commence microfinance work by direct intervention was based on the fact that the process of urbanization had increased its pace considerably. The groups affected by these processes were the women who had migrated to the urban areas with no permanent shelter, specific skills and no community processes to provide them any support. Women then resort to borrowing at exorbitant interest rates to meet their production and consumption needs.

How do you implement your innovation and apply it to the challenge/problem you are addressing?

DST has promoted community based institutions – SHG-Federations for the socio-economic empowerment of women in 40 areas of Pune and Pimpri Chinchwad in Maharashtra. The small consumption and production needs are met through the SHGs (average loan size Rs. 5,000) while the larger credit needs (Average loan size Rs. 25,000) are met through the federations. DST strongly believes in strengthening the local community leaders and conducts various Capacity Building programmes for the Community Workers, Group Leaders and Federation Directors.

Do you have any existing partnerships, and if so, how did you create them?

Not all the credit needs of the members can be met through the SHG-Federations. We are partnering with Indian Bank to provide SHG-Bank Linkage to the SHGs who need funds to meet the credit needs of their members. DST is also partnering with MicroSave, India for the Capacity Building of its project team.

In which sector do these partners work? (Check all that apply)

Provide one sentence describing your impact/intended impact.

Strong women’s movement to manage their lifecycle needs and addressing community level issues

Please list any other measures of the impact of your innovation.

Outreach of 13,000 urban women
Increased access to funds through monthly savings and credit
Increase in average loan size
Reduced dependency on money lenders
Financial systems in place at SHG-Federation level leading to an increased understanding on financial aspects among women
Increased transparency and governance
Overall loan portfolio distribution : 21% of consumption, 3% of Asset Building, 17% External Loans Repayment, 28% housing and 15% production loans

Does your innovation address and/or change banking regulations?


How many people does your innovation serve or plan to serve? Exactly who will benefit from your innovation?

DST currently serves 13,000 urban women and plans to extend its microfinance programme to include more women. The beneficiaries are primarily poor urban women.

Financing source
How is your initiative financed (or how do you expect your initiative will be financed)?

The initiative is financed through a Ford Foundation grant

If known, provide information on your finances and organization:

· Annual budget : Rs.53,50,000
· Annual revenue generated :NA
· Number of staff (full-time, part-time, volunteers) :15

What are the main financial barriers and how do you plan to address them?

Inadequate Funds to meet increasing credit needs of the members. This will have to be sourced through a grants support as it will not be feasible to onlend on funds borrowed at market rates.

Aside from financial sustainability, how do you plan to grow the initiative?

Facilitate the SHG-Federation model in under serviced urban areas with support of the existing SHG-Federation members. This may also take the form of Social Federations

The Story

What was the motivation or defining moment that led to the creation of this innovation? Tell us the story.

In the process of empowerment of women it was realized that access to financial services for women to help them create their own assets and earn livelihood with dignity and confidence was very critical. Starting with the SHG model, DST soon realized that there was a huge unmet demand for credit and the formal financial institutions did not have lending to the urban poor as a priority agenda. The entire national level policy for financial inclusion has been directed towards the rural areas leaving out a huge gap in the urban sector. Financial Federations were promoted to provide the women with an opportunity to start their own community based financial institutions. Starting with one federation with a membership of 100 women, DST soon standardized systems to promote 12 such financial federations across Pune and Pimpri Chinchwad areas covering 13,000 women. This has helped in reducing the dependency of the women on local money lenders who charged exploitative rates of interest.

Please provide a personal bio of the social innovator behind this initiative.

Mrs. Bedi is a Post Graduate in Sociology and Anthropology from University of Pune is the Managing Trustee of DST. She started her career with the State Government Department of Social Welfare and moved on to manage the Oxfam Australian India Programme. She has held this position for 29 years during which period, apart from the programme management, she also undertook small consultations for World Bank, ADB, Aus Aid, Europian Union, WORLD FOOD PROGRAMME, Government of India and a few NGO's. She is also the Chairperson of Sa-dhan, and Board Member of VANI, CECOEDECON, GRASSROOTS, and IACD.

a) Please identify the individuals that your innovation benefits (Please check all that apply)

b) Do you help the people you serve to buy goods or services using financial innovation? If so, how?


c) Do you help the people you serve to sell goods or services using financial innovation? If so, how?