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Functioning and Sustainability of Women Self Help Groups of Assam: An Analysis Based On Credit System and Income Generation

Pallabi Bora and R.K. Talukdar

Abstract

The concept of Self Help Groups (SHGs) has emerged in as a model to alleviate poverty and improve overall conditions of the rural poor, especially rural women. In India, the increasing number of SHGs every year shows its potential; however, sustainability of it has always been questioned. Therefore, a study was conducted with women SHGs of Sivasagar district of Assam to understand the functioning pattern and sustainability of the groups. A total of 15 different parameters related to functioning of the 25 women SHGs were taken for evaluation of credit translation into income generating activities. The study revealed that initially all the groups were being supported externally besides their own corpus fund for financial stability. SHGs mobilized their resources through various income generating and entrepreneurial activities. The groups involved in diversified activities like weaving and embroidery, tailoring, preparation of sweets and snacks, pickles and juice, handicraft, poultry and piggery. However, all the SHGs more or less adopted the same activities, indicating competitive market and that resulted in marginal profit within a geographically confined locality. Regarding microfinance, groups financed the members as well as nonmembers at varied interest rates- usually a higher rate ( 10% per month) for non-members with a repayment period of 3-6 months. Thehighestincomegeneratingactivitywaspiggerywithanaverageannualprofitover investmentof42.7percentfollowedbyPoultry(14.2%)andHandicraft(13.4%).Thelowestwasintailoringand embroidery.Theprofitutilisationpatternsofgroupsweremostlyforproductivepurposesindicatinggroupsustainability. Allthemembersopinedthattherewasincreaseinhouseholdincomeandtheycouldrealizethedreamofcreditfor incomegeneratingactivities.Theycouldalsoinculcatethesavingshabit,meetcreditneeds,gainconfidenceetc.in morethan90.00percentcases.Theeffectsinpoliticalprocessatgrassrootlevelandbankingpracticeswereless visible(43.00and38.00%respectivel

Keyword: Self Help Groups (SHGs);

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