The Journey from Diffidence to Confidence

Leveraging Change: Self Help Groups to a Federation
Regular small savings, and low interest banks loans facilitated through micro-finance interventions such as self-help groups are vehicles that stretch beyond fulfillment of small, yet critical economic needs. Financial prudence has empowered participating women and enabled them to gain the confidence and the credibility to control their life and claim their rights.

2800+ women from 25 villages

are now members of self-help groups.

Through capacity building initiatives by Aatapi, the women have learnt to manage their self-help groups independently, collect members contribution, dispense loans, keep accounts, modify and make rules to ensure smooth and transparent functioning of their groups and leverage group strength to pressurise defaulters to pay. Participation extends beyond the sphere of economic activity, women actively share community responsibilities they are engaged in monitoring schools and public health services to ensure their effective implementation.

Self-help groups have flowered as platforms to nurture the leadership potential of women in multiple arenas. These emerging leaders took the torch further and fostered the formation of small groups in the villages in their vicinity. Leadership at the group and village level has blossomed as leadership at the community level- women engage in the development of their community in areas such as health, water, education, panchayat and local governance. Women have learnt to stand up for what is right whether it be a discriminatory social taboo, a corrupt official or their entitlements.

11 women leaders stood for panchayat elections from these groups and emerged winners who serve their communities diligently.

“Ame amari bank banavishu”

The Ujaas Mahila Bachat Dhiran Grahak Sahakari Mandali- a federation of the self-help groups. Ujaas evolved from the women’s confidence in their collective power. Registered in 2013, it has taken women’s empowerment notches higher. Despair has given way to dreams, education and a life of dignity for their daughters and sons, aspirations to build pucca houses and live a life of comfort and ambitions that go beyond the home and family – a vision to establish their own bank “ame amari bank banavishu” or a bank for women by women.

Their status in their homes and community has grown. “I don’t have to walk 5 kms to attend my Ujaas meetings anymore; my husband drops me on his motorbike. Earlier he would scream,You. You’re not going there’ every time I had to go for a meeting.” For Aatapi a programme never ends it is a continuous journey that traverses greater milestones on the path of community development.

Ujaas Mahila Bachat Dhiran Grahak Sahakari Mandali was registered in 2014-15 year with 1001 members. Today in 2020 it has 2800+ members, 170 groups in 25 villages and a capital of Rs. 1.16 Cr in savings. Their monthly savings start with a humble Rs. 20 a month and often grow to Rs. 1000 a month.