Make Women in Rural India Financially Secure

by Seva Mandir

We would like to thank you once again for your continuing support and faith in our work! Your valuable donations have been crucial in helping us make a great difference in people’s lives here in Rajasthan.

We are thrilled to announce that one of our photos has been selected to feature in the Photo Contest 2012 organized by Global Giving.  Voting began on August 1, 2012 and will end on August 15, 2012.

Why we want you to Vote for our Photo:

We believe the photo captures the pure spirit of the project ‘Send a Child in India to School for a Year’, and reflects the possibilities that lie ahead.  With 3 Clicks, you can help us to win the Photo Contest and the Bonus Cash Prize of $1,000!

How 3 Clicks will Help:

  • First Click - to vote for our photo following this link,
  • Second Click- to confirm your vote via an email sent to you in your inbox,
  • Third Click- to share the beautiful image among your friends, family and networks to spread the word. If you share this with just five people, we most definitely have good chance of success!

Why this Project:

Children (6-14 years old) in villages of Udaipur, India lack access to quality education for a number of reasons. In some cases they belong to very poor families whose per capita consumption is a little more than Rs. 500/-. Often these children support their family incomes by either working as laborers or performing household chores or looking after younger siblings.

With your vote to this project, the Bonus Cash Prize will help us fund an entire rural school to provide quality education to 25 out-of-school and working children for a year.  To learn more about one of our schools, please see the enclosed photo story.

With you at our side, our work is made a little less difficult, and our efforts stretch a whole lot further. We therefore, invite you to support us with 3 clicks.  Please share your thoughts on this report.

With many thanks,

Your friends at Seva Mandir


Dear Friends,

Hope you are well. Half of our monsoon period is over and we have not received any rains. It is a worrisome situation for us. A large number of people in villages were we work, are dependent on agriculture. If it doesn’t rain, the food security for these families will be affected. Therefore, we are hoping that the monsoon may come in its second half and we will receive adequate rainwater in our lakes and wells. We will keep you updated on it.

With this letter, I am sharing with you a story of Devli Bai who is a member of one of the Self Help Groups. Devli Bai has started her own brick factory with the help of the credit she was able to procure from her group. It is you support to this program, which is helping many more women like Devli Bai. You can find the story below my letter.

Once again many thanks for your continuing support to us. We hope to meet with you some day and show you some of our work in villages.

Thanks and regards,



Devli Bai is a member of the Self Help Group in Mohd Phalasiya village since 2002. Her husband Shanta Ram used to work as one of the laborers (brick carrier) in a brick kilning factory which was four kilometers far from their village. In 2008, the entire Self Help Group had applied for a government loan under the Swaranjayanti Gram Swarozgar Yojana (also known as SGSY, is an integrated scheme for providing opportunities of self employment to the rural poor which may be individuals or Self Help Groups). The group received around Rs. 300,000 ($ 6,000) under the scheme and redistributed a loan of 50,000 ($1,000) rupees within their group members. Devli Bai was one of the members who received her share of $ 1,000. She took the loan to start her own business of brick kilning

Devli Bai makes 700 to 1000 bricks in a day and employ three people, thus contributing to local economy. Devli Bai herself works only three to four hours in a day and contributes rest of her time looking after her children and family.

Today, her family earns around Rs. 25,000 to 30,000 ($500 to $600) in a year. Though the income from this business is uncertain during monsoon, Devli Bai says she sees her income increasing every year. In future, she plans to increase production as there is a huge demand for bricks in her village and also purchase plastic sheets to keep unburned bricks safe from rain. This way, she will be able to keep expanding her family’s business.

Women going to attend Meetings
Women going to attend Meetings

Dear Friends,

Hope you are well. We are very grateful to your continuing support to our project “Rural women support their families and villages”. I am writing to share with you the progress report of the project. As you know the project aims at bringing rural women together for saving and credit activities (Self help Groups or SHGs). The hope is to instill confidence for women financially and create opportunities for women to share their concerns with one another. In the process the project also provides women with an opportunity to access external sources of finance to initiate a variety of income generation activities.

With your support, the project focuses on empowering women both at individual and collective level. Following are some snapshots of the enclosed mid-year progress report for 2011-12:

  • There are 534 SHGs with 8,161 women members.
  • A total of Rs. 23,885,387 (USD 508,200) is occupied by these 493 SHGs.
  • A variety of income generation programs have been taken up by several women you are supporting including goatery, dairy, fisheries, pottery; tofu making etc.
  • A short term course viz “Course in Rural Entrepreneurship, Administration and Management” was held for some entrepreneurs focusing on
    finance and accounting, sales and marketing, operations management and strategy management. Find more details in the report enclosed.

Also, below my letter there is a story of a woman who has been benefited by the program you are supporting. I really hope you will enjoy learning more about her.

Thank you once again for your steady support. We hope you will be able to visit us someday. Please do share your thoughts and feedback on the report.

With regards,



Story of Transformation

Rodi Bai, lives in Falasia. She became a member of self help group (SHG) in her village in March last year. In the beginning she was saving Rs. 25/- every month  (USD ½), which gradually increased up to Rs.50/- (USD 1).

She and her husband have three sons, one daughter and a daughter-in-law. The economic condition of her family is not too sound as her husband is the only breadwinner of the family. His income isn’t enough to meet the ends meet. After being a member of the SHG, Rodi Bai thought of reviving her traditional family business of pottery. Unfortunately, she didn’t have enough money to start and the saving which was pooled up by the SHG wasn’t sufficient either to meet her requirement of cash. Subsequently, the SHG applied for a bank loan under a Government Scheme ’SwarnaJayanti Gram Swarojgar’. The group was successful in obtaining a loan of Rs. 312,500 (USD 6,250) from a bank. Rodi was provided with a loan of Rs. 50,000 (USD 1,000) to start her pottery business.

Rodi bai and her husband have started making clay pots and other items. They sell their products in the local and main markets of Udaipur city. Rodi has begun to earn an annual income of Rs. 60,000 (USD 1,200). She has been able to repay more than half of the loan she owes to the bank. Rodi bai and her family is doing well and is very proud of their traditional business.

Rodi Bai making clay pots.
Rodi Bai making clay pots.


Wish you a very Happy New Year 2012!
Wish you a very Happy New Year 2012!

Dear Friend,


I very much hope that you are enjoying the holiday season. From all of us here at Seva Mandir, a very happy and prosperous New Year to you. May 2012 brings peace and success to you and to your family. We thank you for your kindness that you gift us always. With this letter, we love to share some key highlights of year 2011.


For Seva Mandir, the year 2011 has been a year of changes and success. Ms. Neelima Khetan stepped down after 12 years of her excellent leadership (total 25 years of association with Seva Mandir) in March. Ms. Priyanka Singh became our new Chief Executive in April 2011. Seva Mandir is ready to see many more years of its successful engagement with rural communities in Southern Rajasthan in her leadership.


In October, Seva Mandir became the implementing agency for the MNREGA projects for 32 sites in rural Udaipur. It is a significant achievement as well as an indicator of the faith of the 74 Panchayats in Seva Mandir’s work. These Panchayats have endorsed us to be their implementing agency for MNREGA. Of these 32 sites that were sanctioned, the work has begun on the 22 sites. Most of these sites of pastureland development and currently the building of boundary wall is going on.


In 2011, Seva Mandir has been included in two working (sub) groups –  {i) Child Survival & Development and Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS) and ii) Girl Child} constituted by the Ministry of Women and Child Development to review the existing priorities, policies, strategies, programs and their implementation for fulfilling the rights of children to survival, development (including early childhood care, early learning, elementary education). Also, to highlight emerging issues and recommendations, resources allocation and utilization for Twelfth Five Year Plan of Government of India.

Several of Seva Mandir's programs have seen a maturing in the last years. For example, in the villages where Seva Mandir organized regular immunization camps, the complete immunization of children is 60%, while in comparison villages it is only 35%.


Similarly, the work on Natural Resources is yielding a lot of benefits to the poor. Every year grass worth Rs. 52 lacs (5.2 million rupees) is being harvested from the common lands developed under this program.

In April 2011, Champa Devi from Vassela village was awarded the "Woman Exemplar Award 2011". It is another reason to look back and feel joyous to see that a community member of Seva Mandir was being recognized by rest of the society for her selfless services.


We are privileged to experience exciting stories of women like Champa Devi. A big credit goes to friends like you for this. Your support has always been the source of our emotional strength. It helps us keep going with our work. It is gratifying that with your support we have been able to create spaces where ordinary people can exercise truth force to bring about social and political transformation.


We hope you will continue to be with us in future too. Your faith and untiring support is very critical to us at the moment. Especially, when national and international scenario is changing rapidly for civil societies and the definitions of ‘development’ are being re-explored.


We believe that the full and deep impact of Seva Mandir's work lies not so much in the tangible development activities that it promotes, but more in bringing the poor and rich together and enabling them to  work for the commons of building more just  and oppression free communities.


We look forward to your continuing contribution in the year 2012 too. With this letter we also like to share with you our latest e-newsletter.


Wish you a very bright and successful New Year.


With warm regards,



Training of SHG women
Training of SHG women

Dear Friends,

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

 (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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Organization Information

Seva Mandir

Location: Udaipur, Rajasthan - India
Website: http:/​/​
Project Leader:
Priyanka Singh
Executive Director
Udaipur, Rajasthan India

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