Micro Credit, Self-help Groups (SHGs) and Women Empowerment
By Neeta Tapan
Since independence in 1947, the Government of India and the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) have made concerted efforts to provide the poor with access to credit. Despite the phenomenal increase in the physical outreach of formal credit institutions in the past several decades, the disadvantaged sections of society, including women, continue to depend on informal sources of credit. Regular institutions have faced difficulties in dealing with a large number of small borrowers, whose credit needs are small and frequent, and their ability to offer collateral is limited. Cumbersome procedures and risk perceptions of the banks leave a gap in serving the credit needs of the poor. It is in this context that micro credit has emerged as the most suitable and practical alternative to conventional banking in reaching India's poor population. Micro credit enables the poor, including women, to be thrifty and helps them by making available the credit and other financial services for improving their income and living standards. The Self-Help Group (SHG)-Bank Linkage Program was formally launched in 1992 and aptly supported by the RBI through its policy support. The Program envisages the organization of the rural poor into SHGs for building their capacities to manage their own finances and then negotiate bank credit on commercial terms. This book examines the role of micro credit and SHGs in India, focussing on the socio-economic empowerment of women.
Publication Date: 8/1/2010