Strengthening Partnership for Development of SHGs

Approach in Tamil Nadu

Pondicherry, 22-24 October 2009

Keystone’s job was to organize & facilitate a planning workshop for 3 days, in Pondy. This included facilitating, report and minutes, translation and moving towards a common strategy through different NGOs in TN. It was challenging as the NGOs were varied – from large size to medium to grassroots. Resource persons like the talk by Namrata Bali – Director of the Seva Academy, Ahmedabad was useful for all NGOs working with people and peoples’ organizations.

This workshop was organized to exchange experience among the NGOs involved in SHGs programme in the area of Tamil Nadu and strengthen the partnership to refocus activities to support sustainable development processes in the region. The aim was to define together the principles and the overall aspects of a pilot programme focused on development a common vision on SHGs’ programme and integrate effective strategies for strengthening capacities of the NGOs involved in the sector.

In particular, the objectives of the workshop were as follows:

– To understand the comparative strengths of the partners to build partnership

– To develop specific ideas and proposal which address the needs of the women and the community

– To agree a framework for a common vision and strategy on Shg development process

– To achieve common understanding on Shgs programme needs and priorities

The workshop brought together the various NGOs involved in SHG programme in order to (i) Draw lessons learnt from the various aspects of SHS programme (ii) Develop a common strategy/vision on SHG’s development sector. Approximately 25 participants attended the workshop included representatives of Solidar India Consortium, directors of Indian NGOs and the project coordinators.

The workshop was organized around three topics:

– Needs and challenges of Shgs: sharing experiences and best practices among the participants (working group) and elaboration of a common vision statements

– Elaboration of good governance of the programme

– Identification of gap and potential of Shg programme and the next steps

One of the most essential aspects and thrust of this workshop was to go beyond the “Micro Finance” concept and not to equate SHGs with savings and credit only. But to revisit the original concept of well being, the essential part of the SHG movement, which somewhere has been hijacked by MFI and Govt organized SHGs who have concentrated on numbers and savings alone. This movement and approach has the potential to go beyond book keeping and “badly produced” SHG goods for marketing. This was a first time effort to bring 6 NGOs together and see this through. Tamil Nadu, hosting a vibrant civil society movement – the Solidar India Consortium from Europe wanted to learn from this model and apply and use it in Europe for its aim of a Social Europe.

SOLIDAR is a European network of NGOs working to advance social justice in Europe and worldwide. With 53 member organisations based in 25 countries, 20 of which are EU countries, SOLIDAR works in cooperation with progressive civil society organisations, socialist democratic and social parties, and trade unions.

SOLIDAR aims to influence EU and international policy, and links members together to network and carry out humanitarian and development projects.

SOLIDAR is active in three primary areas: social affairs, international cooperation and education. The Consortium involvement after Tsunami crisis has led to identify important needs in the State of Tamil Nadu which were not only linked to the Tsunami and are still very accurate today. There are several fields of intervention that could be integrated into a new programme based on support to Shgs and women empowerment. For this reason, Solidar India Consortium has explored opportunities to enlarge their partnership with new partners and to refocus activities to support sustainable development processes in the region around women and community empowerment. The potential partners have been identified during field visits realized by the project managers of Solidar in the period of June-July 2009 and the criteria of selection was based on the different experiences , different approaches on Shgs programme and their different capacities, skills in different field. Based on the meetings have been realized, Solidar India Consortium started to plan the workshop in order to discuss and expose with the listed organisation a new programme.

[1] Volkshilfe Austria, Solidaritè Laique France, Progetto Sviluppo Italy, International Solidarity Foundation Finland

[2] Gramium, Pda, Lead, Ader India, Dhan Foundation, Lead, Sevai, Nangal