Rural women support their families and villages

Jun 8, 2011

You - helping villagers in India with the business plan

Business planning at community level
Business planning at community level

Dear friends,

Hope you are well. Thank you for your continuing support. We are very grateful to you donations and inputs.

Every time with our letter to you, we wish to acquaint you with Seva Mandir a bit more. In this letter, you will get to know about the process of our business planning.

Seva Mandir focuses on communities rather than on individuals. The belief is that in order to bring about the durable changes in the society, the constructive work involving all the community members is important because social problems are complex. It therefore takes longer but the outcomes are more sustainable and long lived. Therefore, Seva Mandir has a three pronged strategy –

1)      To create and strengthen institutions for development (at the village, organization and society levels)

2)      To enhance people’s capabilities for self-development (both at individual and community level); and

3)      To create sustainable improvements in the livelihoods base.

Our bottom-up approach allows creating stakes for every section of society to participate in their own development. We very much hope that you will enjoy knowing about our business planning phase that we are going through right now.

It has been a very hot summer here in Rajasthan this year. We are now all prepared to welcome the monsoon which should be here in the next week and half. Gradually it is getting humid day by day and we are trying not to let the rising temperatures affect us and are currently in the midst of the exciting organization wide planning process to develop our 7th Comprehensive Plan.

The Comprehensive Plan outlines the strategic direction and action-plans for Seva Mandir over the next three-year plan period (2012-2015). 

Seva Mandir has been preparing Comprehensive Plans since 1990 as a way to systematically review and evolve its near-term strategic priorities across all programmatic areas.  The process of putting together the Comprehensive Plan also serves as an opportunity for Seva Mandir to reflect upon the work we have done, examine the environment we work in and evolve our strategies accordingly, within the context of past lessons learned and the overall long-term vision of the organization.

The process for creating the 7th Comprehensive Plan began in late 2010 and includes all levels of Seva Mandir’s tiers viz. - from the villages where we work all the way up to the Chief Executive Officer.  The Comprehensive Plan process is consistent with Seva Mandir’s bottom-up approach, with the kick-off meetings taking place at the village level with the Chief Executive present.  After these initial meetings, the staff members at the zone and block offices had an opportunity to share their thoughts, observations and information.  Using the information gathered from the field, the Programs devised their strategies for the upcoming years.  These were presented to the organization as a whole, where debate, discussion, criticism and suggestions took place.

We are now headed into the final stages of this exciting process.  Programs are incorporating the comments and suggestions into their reports, and putting the final touches in to the operating frameworks. This is an exciting time at Seva Mandir and we are really looking forward to the next few years when we can put these strategies into effect and watch the change they make.

The integrated approach allows all our partners, friends, donors and well wishers to contribute to the holistic development of our communities. Any project/program that you support for Seva Mandir is a part of this comprehensive plan. Thank you so much for regularly supporting our cause and making a difference.

We will soon be providing you with an annual report of our programs you are supporting on Global Giving. In the meantime, if you have any questions, please feel free to contact me.

With warm regards,


May 5, 2011

Heerki made Rs. 4,500 with your support. Thank you

Heerki, photo taken at her house
Heerki, photo taken at her house

Dear Friends,

Greetings from Seva Mandir!!

I have two pieces of news to share before we talk about Heerki whose life has been transformed because of your support and SHGs.

One -we had participated in a fund raising event on Global Giving UK. The challenge Top 10 wins challenge (1st to 14th March) required us to raise at least of £ 500 with minimum of 25 donors. Seva Mandir participated with its project “Improving Food Security for Tribal Farmers in India”. This project helps 5000 poor, marginalized farmers in rural Udaipur to have better crops and thus earn more money/food. This is done through a variety of programs including – seed bank program, using organic manure prepared with the help of earth worms (vermin-composting), growing cash crops like vegetables (preparing nurseries) for self sustenance and income generation. You would be very happy to note that this project raised £705 from 31 donors in the Top 10 Wins Challenge and therefore it won a bonus prize of £300. It is a perfect gift on the Holi (the color festival) for our farmers this year.

Two, this year, in March our ex Chief Executive Ms. Neelima Khetan was retired. She has spent 25 years with Seva Mandir and the last twelve years as the Chief Executive. The organization excelled during her time and with her leadership marked a number of achievements. Though she has left us due to our constitutional norms, we are very happy to have her as our Trustee on Seva Mandir Board. Her continuing association with Seva Mandir is very assuring for all of us. 

Ms. Priyanka Singh has taken over as Chief Executive of Seva Mandir from 1st April 2011. She has spent over thirteen years with Seva Mandir heading Education and Health program and leading Badgaon Block (a geographical unit for our work). She has a post graduate degree in rural development from the same institute as Ms. Khetan did. She is very capable and a great person to work with. With her deep understanding of issues in rural development and support from all our friends like you, we are very much looking forward to seeing Seva Mandir keep doing its good work in the next years to come. At this point of time, we all look for your continuous support and faith for many more years of working together.

Below my letter please find the story of Heerki. I very much hope you will enjoy learning about the impact small activity like saving and credit can do for women of our region. Thank you so much for supporting this program.

Please do consider to make another donation and also encourage your friends to support this project. We hope that you will be able to visit/write to encourage our new team and leadership.

Warm Regards



Here is the story of Heerki – (Story written by Anjali – an ex volunteer to Seva Mandir)

Heerki has not been educated. She has two sons and three daughters. In her home, she lives with her husband, one of her sons, his wife, and his child. Her routine consists of doing all family work including cattle, household, and field work. Her husband does NREGA in another village and field work, and her son is a factory threadmill worker.

From the SHG she has taken around Rs. 10,000 (USD 223) in loans for household items, marriage, and education fees. They were taken through family decisions.

Her husband suggested they purchase a water lifting machine through the bank linkage loan. The machine is a bore that fits to an electric pump. The machine has now made a huge change in their field work. Before, they could not grow wheat and now they’ve grown fifteen quintels of wheat. Though they haven’t yet sold anything, they could have potentially made Rs. 4,500 (USD 100) in the past four months. Each quintel will bring in Rs. 1,500. Now, they’re also cultivating vegetables, which they couldn’t do previously.

No training was needed for the machine as it simply needs to be plugged in. Their costs include electricity and nearly a quintel of seeds which were purchased to begin. One quintel is approximately one kg of seeds, which costs Rs. 18. They needed to purchase the seeds initially, but can now save their own seeds and won’t need to purchase any next time.

The whole family works in the field for two to three hours a day. They haven’t sold anything yet, but will sell to other villagers. They are already satisfied.

The only problem for the family is that there is not always electricity for the motor to spread water in the field. In addition, Heerki expresses that it is very hard work, but feels content as it is a job.

Prior to this loan, they made about Rs. 3,000 (USD 67) a month. Now, they don’t have to purchase as much food because they have more of their own food. The money saved is going to their installments. The family plans to begin selling in one to two months.

succesor to ex Chief Executive Seva Mandir
succesor to ex Chief Executive Seva Mandir
Jan 3, 2011

Happy 2011 from Durga Kumari and all of us here

Durga Kumari sends you her greetings
Durga Kumari sends you her greetings

Wishing you a very happy, prosperous and wonderful 2011. Thank you friends for extending peace, love and support to all of us in 2010. We look forward to another great year with you. Year by year, our association is getting stronger. Thank you very much for adding happiness to our lives.

A small drawing made by Durga Kumari is presented as a token of our wishes to you.

Have an awesome year ahead.

Warm regards,



Dec 15, 2010

You have helped Denu earn $ 60 per month

A member of SHG program
A member of SHG program

Dear Friends,

Happy Holiday Season!

Hope you are enjoying the holiday season. This year the winter started a little later here but it is pleasantly cold right now. We hope it is also nice weather where you are.

Thank you for supporting women of our region. Currently there are 493 Self Help Groups (SHGs) with a membership of 7516. The net-owned fund of 493 SHGs till September 2010 is Rs. 17,308,217 (USD 384,627). A number of women and their families are engaged in various income generation programs such as goatery, dairy, fisheries, pottery; tofu making etc. Many women members borrow money from their SHGs (usually linked up with Banks) and start small businesses. These activities help their families in having an additional income and confidence. In a number of cases, with the help of SHGs the village youth have also taken up some enterprises. The Soy project is one such example. You can find more details about this program in the report enclosed.   

The story given below will give you an idea of how women members are being supported by these SHGs in earning more income as well as more respect in their societies.

It is exciting for us to share the progress of these programs with you at the time of holiday season. Thank you for being an incredible partner to us. Please consider donating again to this program at this festivity and also tell about it to your friends.

Many thanks once again. Happy Holiday Season to you from all of us here.

With warm regards,



Denu (changed name) is a member of Self Help Group in Kojawada village. There was no wheat flour Mill in the area she lives. As a result women had to walk nearly 3 km to get their wheat grounded. The women were not happy with the quality of work done at this Mill. Denu and her family decided to obtain a loan to start their own Mill. Denu's Self Help Group applied for a bank loan as the other women members also wanted to start their own businesses of some kind.

The group was sanctioned a loan of Rs 200,000 under a government scheme “Swarn Jayanti Swarojgar Yojana (Golden Jubilee Self Employment Scheme), considering their group's good performance in the past.

Denu started the Mill with her portion of the loan money (Rs. 20,000 or USD 445) and ever since she is milling 80-100 kg of wheat every day. She is able to earn around Rs 3000 (USD 67) per month. She is happy for getting a regular income and being able to support her family. She is also a part of Seva Mandir Iron fortification project (for improving the Hemoglobin levels of village community), wherein she gets an additional income of Rs 600-700 every month for fortifying the wheat flour with iron for her fellow villagers.


Sep 16, 2010

Colorful fishes makes money for rural women, India

ornamental fishes in cemented fish tanks
ornamental fishes in cemented fish tanks

Dear Friends,

Thank you very much for your continuing support to the rural women of our region. With this letter, I would like to share with you a story of the ornamental fishery that women in Kaya village are doing.

However, before the story, we want you to know something about our monsoon. You will be very happy to note that the monsoon has turned out very good in Rajasthan this year. It has rained almost every day this monsoon which is unusual to our region. Usually we receive 20 rainy days in the monsoon. One of the most popular lakes in Udaipur city – Fatehsagar has filled up fully with lots of rain water and is currently over flowing. In villages too some of the streams are flowing and everyone is very happy. Hopefully we will have a good harvest of crops this year. The maize is the major crop and is currently growing in all the fields.

The women in Kaya wanted to help their families by supplementing extra income. The self help group (SHG) thought of starting a small business and therefore they started rearing ornamental fishes. The ornamental fished are in high demand in Udaipur. About Rs. 8 lakh (USD 16,667) worth fishes are sold in Udaipur every year. The Department of Fisheries of Mohanlal Sukhadia University in Udaipur was willing to provide the necessary support under their “Mega Seed Project”, supported by Indian Council for Agriculture Research.

Of the 6 SHGs, thirteen women decided to take up the project in 2006. They participated in a ten day training organized by the Department of Fisheries to learn about fish rearing, construction and maintenance of fish tanks, netting, etc. On completion of the training each of them were given 200 fish seeds. A buy-back arrangement had been agreed upon with the department who in turn sell them to dealers in Udaipur. Young boys from the village, who are children of the SHG members, have also been trained on aquarium fabrication, management and handling of ornamental fishes, and they provide the necessary support to women in rearing and in selling fish directly in the open market.

In the beginning women would dig up a pit in the ground in their field and would rear the fishes but eventually they realized that a kaccha pit (un-cemented) in the ground was a big challenge to manage. It also had a negative impact on the desired results because the seepage was high and the plastic sheet in the bottom of these pits got torn by the stones below and the rats & crabs ate up the sheets. These un-cemented tanks also got silted very soon and some tanks even collapsed. At regular intervals, the tanks need to be refilled with water. As you know water is scarce in the drought prone areas. As a result, the poor middle-aged women had to invest a lot of resources to keep their fishes alive.

It is then, when women decided to put up the cemented tanks. With help of funds raised from donors like you and Charities Aid Foundation India (CAF) the cemented tanks were built. Women also contributed 20% of the total cost (USD 521 for one tank) towards the construction of the tanks. Today thirteen women are rearing red, brown, gappi, silver and black molly fishlings in their tanks. According to an estimate last year women are able to earn between Rs. 500-1200 (USD 10-25) per member. Earlier, women were selling their fishes for Rs. 4 to 8/- but recently when I visited their village the women told me that they are selling the fished for more prices – like the golden orange fish is sold for Rs. 15 each. They are increasing their market base day-by-day and are quite happy with the progress they have made so far. Currently they are in communication with the Fishery Department to explore whether a shade over their tanks is useful and would help them yield better results.

This has all been possible because of the support received from people like yourself. We will keep you posted on these women’s progress. Your donations are significant at this stage when their investments are shaping up.

It would be very encouraging if you could provide us with your comments on our feedback reports that we post on Global Giving in addition to your continuing support. It would help us improve in our communication with you. Thank you once again.

We will keep you posted on our progress.

With warm regards,


About Project Reports

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Seva Mandir

Udaipur, Rajasthan, India

Project Leader

Priyanka Singh

Executive Director
Udaipur, Rajasthan India

Where is this project located?

Map of Rural women support their families and villages