Self-help groups have made considerable effort in helping women

Entrepreneurship is all about individual initiative. But at the lower strata of society, a small working capital is hard to come by. Private money lenders charge usurious rates.

The concept of self-help groups has led to considerable change helping women get money for consumption and petty business needs. But the task of nurturing micro entrepreneurship has not been easy.

Under the Swarna Jayanti Shahari Rozgar Yojana (SJSRY), Urban Self-Employment Programme (USEP) has been launched four years ago. It is meant for helping individuals take up small businesses and units. Up to Rs.2 lakh is granted with 25 per cent subsidy with interest rates ranging from 11 to 12.5 per cent depending upon the bank. Seventy per cent of the money is given by banks as loans and five per cent is the beneficiary contribution. The beneficiaries are identified through women self-help groups.

Since 2009, 792 persons have been financed to the tune of Rs. 990.6 lakh by the Urban Community Development (UCD) wing of GVMC, according to Project Director M.N.A. Patrudu. That the number is only about half the target achieved speaks for the problems involved in taking it up further. Of them, 348, nearly 44 per cent, were covered only last year. This year of the target of 800 fixed by Mission for Elimination of Poverty in Urban Areas (MEPMA), 660 applications have been forwarded to banks and 71 units sanctioned with an outlay of Rs.106.5 lakh.

Mr. Patrudu said the task was much more difficult when it comes to Urban Women Self-help Programme (UWSP) in spite of 50 per cent subsidy given and the unit cost going up to Rs.8 lakh. “Because all the members of an SHG have to take up the same activity and the cost involved bankers would like it to be a sort of manufacturing unit,” he says. Such unit offers the guarantee of some machinery in case the enterprise fails to take off.

Recently, an effort has begun to set up a bag-making unit and members of a group at Pendurti in Zone VI have been given training by APITCO. An amount of Rs.2 lakh has been sanctioned.

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