How Self-Help Groups have reimagined India’s women entrepreneurship
Microfinance is a widely promoted developmental initiative to provide poor women with affordable financial service to help them come out of the clutches of poverty. One popular model in South Asia is the Self-Help Group (SHG) model that India adopted in 2011 as part of a federal poverty alleviation program, including upskilling of rural women. India’s SHG movement has evolved from small savings and credit groups that sought to empower poor rural women, into one of the world’s largest institutional platforms to improve the well-being of poor households. The women’s movement that started as a leap of faith some 15 years ago has proved to be an invaluable resource in these difficult times. Today, 67 million Indian women are members of 6 million SHGs. Women at the centre of development have been an important story in India and South Asia. Many women associated with these SHGs produce unique items like jute bags, masks, spices, and other household necessities. Taking this movement a notch higher is SheMart India, a place where women from SHGs get a platform to showcase their products for sale to the masses. Started in 2019 in Uttar Pradesh, India’s most populous state with 220 million people, the platform is a confluence of products and social entrepreneurs.