A livelihood generation model, financed through micro-credit released by women’s self-help groups (SHGs) in the dusty Rajput-dominated Jhund village of Jaipur district, has impressed representatives of Commonwealth countries who are now keen to replicate it in regions where the social milieu and economic conditions are identical.
Representatives from the developing countries of Asia-Pacific region and Africa attending the tenth Commonwealth India Small Business Competitiveness Development Programme in Jaipur visited the village, 36 km from the Rajasthan capital, earlier this week to witness the SHGs’ activities to access finances and technology.
The visiting delegation, comprising about 30 entrepreneurs, businessmen, representatives of non-government organisations and government officials from Commonwealth countries, evinced a keen interest in the SHGs’ role in developing handicrafts, promoting animal husbandry and supporting sustainable small business ventures.
There are nine women’s SHGs functioning in Jhund with a total membership of 137. A Jaipur-based NGO, Students’ Relief Society (SRS), guided the SHGs during their formative years since 1998, while they operate their “micro banks” autonomously, making important decisions on their own about the recipients for loans as well as the recovery process.
The rural women’s progressive march to shield their future was showcased to the delegation through embroidery work on saris, bed-sheets and quilts and making of iron products and toys by a goldsmith family at Government Middle School in Jhund. The visitors were also apprised of the high percentage of girls getting education.
SRS Director Prem Narayan Sharma told the visitors that there was a separate SHG here for adolescent girls, known as “Kishori Samooh.”