Self Help Groups

Self help group is a voluntary association of women from a similar socioeconomic background. At AVAG, they come together for the purpose of solving their common economic and social problems and the development challenges of their village and the society through self-help and mutual help.

  • In a society that is deep rooted with its culture and traditions, it would be  easier and faster to bring changes when we work with groups. They would be supportive to each other.  
  • At AVAG, Self Help groups are used as vehicles for empowering women.The organisation does not believe that mere economic development can not bring empowerment of women. These groups act as major partners of AVAG in it its mission  for the holistic development of the communities. 
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We agree to work with the SHG’s that agree to:

  • Organise and conduct two meetings a month in the place agreeable to all its members, pay membership fee and to save an amount approved by all.
  • Attend educational meetings and training offered by AVAG to upgrade skills and knowledge of its members on various topics to be able to help themselves and their communities.
  • Take up or participate in the community development activities of the village, federation and AVAG.
  • Be an agent for social change and to be supportive to the initiatives and efforts of all members of the group.
  • Become a member of the Udhayam Women’s Federation, which is an umbrella to hold and support the activities of all self help groups.The self help groups take up activities for the development of the members and the community in collaboration with the federation and AVAG.

Women from marginalsed communities join together to supportive to each other and to take steps for the collective empowerment of women in our area.

The group also consists of people who had physical disabilities, economic backwardness and widows who were left uncared. There is no discrimination among members on the basis of caste, colour, creed, religion or political contacts.

Since AVAG believes that women’s empowerment and community development  can not be achieved by excluding men, men’s groups are also formed primarily to include them in development initiatives.

Each SHG has an Animator (who facilitates group discussions), and two Representatives (who handle bookkeeping and administration). These positions are elected and rotate every two years, giving each member the opportunity to take a leadership role. AVAG offers regular trainings to increase the capacity of SHG leaders. Single women are encouraged to take up leadership positions.

We don’t just use SHGs to administer a microfinance programme but also to help members with capacity building skills and community development which are essential for individual empowerment.

  • SHGs form a forum for discussions, which foster crucial aspects of responsibility, solidarity and cooperation.
  • Using the SHG Network for delivering Government schemes and conducting training programs.
  • SHGs as tool for combating Social Problems –like participating in the caste exchange program, supporting a woman in need of medical or other emergency, protecting a water body in the community.
  • SHGs as Business Units – The units moving forward from being mere loan programme which mainly does savings and credit for the bottom of pyramid, to gradually becoming strong and stable institutions and have the financial resources and social capital to build small business enterprises.
"We have benefitted a lot after joining the clubs. We didn't even know how to sign our names when we joined, now we do. AVAG is like a temple for us.I built my house, got my daughter educated and married, helped my husband after he was in an accident. Not only me, all 20 members of the club benefitted. I am really happy to be a part of my SHG and of AVAG."
Vijayalaxmi

Women’s Power Project

As AVAG’s most successful endeavour, the Women’s Power program has been working to address issues of gender inequity in the target areas since 1996.

Rural Tamil Nadu holds many ‘traditional’ values, which legitimize the subordination of women. The male child is often valued more, and his nutritional, medical and educational requirements given priority over his female siblings, who are expected to help as much as possible around the house whilst their brothers play and go to school. For this reason many women are disadvantaged from the day they are born and are often lacking the necessary confidence, support and resources to further themselves or their families.

WPP uplifts the position of local women by providing the requisite tool set to fight multiple layers of oppression that hinder their empowerment. Most women access WPP through SHGs, although some programs reach many women not directly affiliated with AVAG.

In a strongly patriarchal society such as here, these efforts are particularly required and effective among women’s groups since they provide an opportunity for them to step up to positions of authority where they can exercise their sense of responsibility and independence.

Men's Self Help Group

Formed with the guidance of AVAG senior staff, who help in training men  for activities that benefit the society as a whole.

The Men’s SHGs originated as Youth clubs in the villages in 1991. These clubs concentrated on village development activities such as micro projects, service camps and conducting night schools. In 1995-96 these Youth clubs were registered as Men’s SHGs and the culture of collective savings was started

In Tamil Nadu, it is quite uncommon for NGOs and banks to involve men in microfinance programs. This is owing to the unfortunate fact that men have not inculcate a culture of saving money and repaying loans as a part of a group. Over a period of time, through various counselling and training programmes, We have brought about a change in this scenario and encouraged men to repay their loans regularly. Issues of corruption and alcoholism, which disproportionately affect men, are prominent themes in AVAG’s work with men

Today, the men’s groups of AVAG are proud to be a part of a collective savings group and are able to internally lend amounts up to 60,000 rupees (as of 2016). On seeing this progress, banks have become more open to sanctioning loans to men’s groups.

Consequently, the men now play a bigger role in fulfilling financial needs of their families. The same integrated approach used with women is implemented with men, except for a few alterations tailored to fit the different roles of men in Tamil culture. These differences, it must be noted, reflect cultural realities that AVAG must adapt to. Therefore, an emphasis on entrepreneurship training for men as against livelihood training for women is a major difference between the programs.

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Self Help Groups
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Members

Manimagalai Women's Club

The stagnating water jeopardized the Panchayat tap provided for this village for drinking purpose. The club took the job of providing a solution for this problem. They planned to provide with cement slabs to all the street taps. The project of construction of tap pillars and soak pit to drain the water was done successfully. Now the village enjoys the benefit of a clean surrounding. Also provision was made to drain the rainwater. After this work the road is free from stagnating water.

This club has got a revolving fund and activity loan of Rs 5,54,000  under SGSY scheme and 22 members of this club were given milch animals under this scheme.

Vanur Vinmeen Men's Club

Most of these club members are students who have carved their attitude to work for the development of their village. They constructed Speed breakers in the cement road. They fenced the Vanur – Government hospital with the help of Vanur self help groups coordination committee.

Last year they conducted cycle rally insisting peace and prosperity in the world in the Auroville Bioregion. It is one of the club saving the money in the bank. They have good relation with the clubs and are always ready to help the clubs in doing the village works.

Kottakarai Nila Women's Club

Women usually find it difficult working outdoors. The women of this club demonstrated that everything is possible  by constructing the first floor for the village school situated in their area. The notable part of this work is that it was completed without the help of men.

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