Greetings from Seva Mandir!
Hope you are well. Earlier we told you about an MBA course that has been organized for SHG leaders. The program that you support offers a variety of oppurtunities to these leaders. The MBA course is one such opportunity. My colleagues have shared with me a blog that was written by one of the resource persons of this MBA program.
Also, a two day training on 8th and 9th September 2011 was conducted for 40 women leaders. The training focused on developing basic understanding on gender and included session on concept of sex and gender, patriarchy and socialization.
In addition, I also have some more news including a brief study carried out by one of our volunteers on the status of microcredit activities in our region. This time, my letter brings you a flavor of thoughts expressed by people who have been associated with the program you are supporting. Please find these snippets below my letter.
I really hope you will enjoy reading about a different perspective of this work you champion. In my next letter to you, in a month, you will get to know the facts and figures of this program; as I will share with you the half yearly report of the program "Rural Women Support their Family And Villages".
Once again, thank you very much for being with us and supporting thousands of women of Rajasthan. Please do write to me in case of any queries.
With warm regards,
1) The MBA program for women entrepreneur:
Ms. Zenobia Driver (a resource person for CREAM conducted for rural entrepreneurs) wrote a blog on Urja-Soy project of Seva Mandir. The blog gives details about problems in managing micro enterprises, market reach and its derived learnings.
She is currently working as Director at Escape Velocity (A business strategy and marketing consulting firm based in Mumbai). She also worked as a Senior Consultant with Momentum Strategy and as a Senior Product Manager with Johnsons and Johnsons.
She wrote: "In spite of having a lower-priced healthier product to offer, Urja initially struggled to grow. There were two main reasons for this – one, most people in Udaipur were not aware of the health benefits of soya paneer and were not sure how it would benefit them, and two – the taste of soya paneer is different from that of paneer from milk, which is what people are used to. There is also a third problem of a reduced shelf life (2-3 days for Soya Paneer vs. 2 weeks for milk paneer), but this is less of an issue. Thus the key challenges facing Urja were to raise consumer awareness of the health benefits of paneer and to make the health benefit relevant, also to overcome the barrier of taste". Read her full blog on the following link http://escape-velocity-blog.com/2011/06/30/%e2%80%98need-but-don%e2%80%99t-want%e2%80%99-%e2%80%93-solutions-from-a-microenterprise/
(CREAM stands for Course in Rural Entrepreneurship, Administration and Management. It’s a curriculum designed and taught by industry professionals, NGO Leaders and academicians. It’s a part time MBA program designed for rural businessmen and employees of NGO’s running various livelihood projects. 18 people including 10 staff associated with the savings and credit programme and 8 rural entrepreneurs are associated with this programme)
2) What a recent study on Microcredit says:
A study on ‘An investigation into the status, problems and effectiveness of microcredit” was carried out by two volunteers in Urban and Badgaon Blocks during February to May 2011. The purpose of the study was to investigate the nature of microfinance, evaluate the risks of a crisis similar to that of Andhra Pradesh occurring in this region and investigate the effectiveness of microfinance as a tool for increasing socio-economic wellbeing.
The study revealed that there are 6 MFIs - Basix, SKS, Janalakshmi, Sahayata and Equitas and Asmitha operating in Urban block and one MFI – Sahayata, also operational in Badgaon block. It also reflected that there is very little indication of any potential crisis due to MFIs in the near future, in this area. The interest rates are not unreasonably high, the number of loan per borrowers, at 1.8, is also within reasonable limits. Coercion by MFI employees is not something that was mentioned by borrowers and by far the majority intended to take future loans. However there existed the practice of taking commission by group leaders acting as middlemen between the MFIs and the borrowers as well as the issues of ‘fake lenders’ where deposits were taken without a loan being issued. For example - in one of the panchayats – Dhar, of Badgaon block in our area, a women claiming to be from an MFI took money from 35 people, Rs 1000 from each and promised to provide loan on that basis. The organization never visited the area again, and those who had given Rs.1000 did not receive a refund or their promised loan. No one knew this organization and our attempts of contacting them were not successful either. The organization has not been heard from, and attempts to contact them have been unsuccessful.
3) Visitors in the city - observing women's meeting
The Programme Officer CHF (Co-operative Housing Foundation) International – India, along with her 4 team members visited a women’s group associated with Sadhna (Women’s handicraft enterprise) and Pula SHG cluster (an association of 15 SHGs) of Urban block during 26 to 27 May 2011. The visiting team participated in Pula Kachi Basti’s cluster meeting. They appreciated the way the meeting was conducted and felt happy to see the functioning of cluster and active participation of women. They were also happy to see the well maintained records and the rules and regulations especially related to loan disbursement and repayment. The visitors also appreciated the fact that women also discussed social issues along with issues related to savings and credit.
Story of Kalu:
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