|Empowerment of women is the most important means of poverty eradication. Despite considerable improvement in the status of women post independence, they still constitute the largest section of deprived population. Certain problems such as poverty, illiteracy, lack of skills, availability of proper health care facilities, ignorance etc., which are persistent in rural economy, cannot be tackled individually but could be effectively solved through group efforts. Such group efforts are called as ‘Self Help Groups”, which has become a powerful tool in initiating the change and transforming the lives of crores of poor and marginalized across the country.
Ministry of Rural Development, Government of India, on 1st April 1999, launched its flagship programme ‘Swarnajayanthi Gram Swarozgar Yojana (SGSY)’. The scheme is implemented by DRDA’s (District Rural Development Agency) or Zilla Parishads. The programme aims at developing large number of micro enterprises by organizing the poor in rural areas into Self Help Groups, through social mobilization at the grass root level. The beneficiaries are termed as ‘Swarojgaris’ and will be provided necessary skills, training and capacity building through training programmes. Given the financial support, together with appropriate knowledge and skill input, the poor people, in general, have the propensity to make better use of labour and capital. Thus installation of income generating activities and micro enterprises in rural areas, helps to promote 1st generation micro entrepreneurs. Providing an opportunity to improve practical, serviceable and entrepreneurial skill is the core of all this. SHG’s play a considerable role in promoting this. Though, the fundamental objective of self help group is to promote savings and thrift and to provide necessary lending to members at the time of need, of late, they nurture the entrepreneurial activities amongst their members and helps them in becoming financially sustainable.