What are Self Help Groups?

Self Help Groups are voluntary groups whose members meet every week to save, start small business activities and create powerful change for themselves and their communities. The groups have a number of features such as small group size and indefinite membership that differentiate them from other models. The Share Trust has put together an infographic that outlines the key characteristics of a Self Help Group in more detail.

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Visualizing the Self Help Group Federated Structure

As SHGs mature and replicate, they aggregate - this allows them to amplify their individual voices to create impactful change at scale. The resulting democratic structure allows the groups to have a broader impact on their communities while also providing an exit strategy for implementing organizations. The Share Trust has put together an infographic that describes this process in more detail.

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Building a Digital Platform for SHG Facilitators

The Share Trust has been working in partnership with Code Innovation to build a digital curriculum for SHG facilitators. This is complemented by an MIS/dashboard that allows organizations and facilitators to track the progress of their groups. With support from DFID and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the digital platform is now in 9 languages, working with 13 implementing partners across India, Africa and the Caribbean. More information can be found on the SHG digital platform website.

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Can Women’s SHGs Improve Access to Information, Decision-Making, and Agricultural Practices?

Raghunathan et al. (2019) examined PRADAN’s SHG program in five states across India to see whether the groups are an effective platform for improving access to information, women’s empowerment in agriculture, agricultural practices, and production diversity. They found that SHG participation does increase women’s access to information and their participation in some agricultural decisions, but has limited impact on agricultural practices or outcomes, possibly due to financial constraints, social norms, and women’s domestic responsibilities.

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Social Networks, Mobility and Political Participation

Using cross-sectional data from 2015, Kumar et al. (2019) looked into the potential for women’s SHGs to improve access to and use of public entitlement schemes in India. They found that while SHGs do not increase awareness of these schemes, SHG members are significantly more likely to make use of them. SHG members were also found to be more politically active than non-members.

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Effect of SHG Health Interventions on Reproductive, Maternal, Neonatal and Child Health

In a quasi-experimental study in India, Saggurti et al. (2018) sampled 1,182 groups (810 SHG groups and 372 control groups) to determine whether an eight-session behavior-change health intervention effected healthy maternal and newborn practices (MNCH). They found that structured participatory communication on MNCH with women’s groups improved positive health practices.

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Tanzania Pamoja Learning Review

The Christian Council of Tanzania (CCT) implemented the Pamoja Kongwa project from 2014 to 2017 in 25 project villages in Kongwa district to increase access to financial and social capital. The Pamoja methodology is based on the SHG approach and was adapted for Tanzania; it is primarily conducted through the church. Through desk reviews, interviews and focus group discussions, this program evaluation determined that the Pamoja Kongwa project met and exceeded most of its objectives.

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How SHGs Strengthen Resilience: Tackling Food Security in Protracted Crises

The Overseas Development Institute (ODI) investigated the effect SHGs have on building resilience and food security in chronic crises and found that they were very effective when coping with idiosyncratic shocks in SNNPR, Ethiopia. Covariate shocks were more complicated, because in those cases the entire community suffered and often members diversified their incomes with climate- dependent initiatives.

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