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Bullock-cart Workers’ Development Association, a non-governmental organisation, educating self-help groups on micro-financial management. — Photo: C. Venkatachalapathy
VILLUPURAM: The Bullock-cart Workers’ Development Association, a non-governmental organisation, has set a mark in the creation of self-help groups (SHGs) in Tamil Nadu and Puducherry.
Ever since its formation in 1985 the association, with headquarters in Villupuram, has helped in the formation of 19,000 SHGs with a total membership of 3.5 lakh.
It has come into being primarily to protect the interests of the bullock-cart workers and later extended its activity in the sphere of the SHGs.
Managing Director of the association C. Joslin Thambi told The Hindu that his organisation had set the vision of empowering 15 lakh economically vulnerable households in the backward regions by 2015.
For achieving the goal women were imparted necessary skills to take up various economic pursuits such as agriculture, micro-industry and petty trade to supplement their family income.
In this regard the association was coordinating with the Tamil Nadu Women Development Corporation, District Rural Development Authority, District Industrial Centre and the Tamil Nadu Social Welfare Board.Saving habit
The SHGs were first taught about the importance of inculcating saving habit. Its “Pidi arisi thittam” was a runaway success; i.e., under the scheme women were asked to set aside a handful of rice every day which they could later sell to buy income generating devices such as sewing machines.
Later, the SHG members were asked to pull in whatever resources at their command to help those in financial straits for which they ought to maintain a record. Based on their performance over a period of time, credit linkages were established with banks.
Thus, financial assistance to the tune of Rs. 65.25 crore was given to 62,444 beneficiaries who were doing extremely well in terms of pursuing the trade of their choice and repayment of loan.
Through its micro-financing system the association was giving low-cost loans.
Besides striving for the economic well being of women, who were highly prone to emotional stress, the association had also arranged for family counselling.
For promoting education among the poor and the downtrodden the association was running two primary schools, one arts college and one community college where nominal fees were collected and scholarships were arranged for the deserving candidates.
Mr. Thambi said that the emphasis was more on enabling women to earn their own livelihood than on lending without any purpose which would only make them debtors.
He was confident that with the cooperation of the SHGs the association would attain the goal within the target period.
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