SHG: a medium of hope and confidence for Harnoo village’s women

Story type
Case story

When they were first told about the working of a self-help group, the women of Uttar Pradesh’s Harnoo village said that it was simply not possible to deposit any money when their finances were already spread so thin. “Families here would take loans from outside for their agriculture, wedding, and other things. To deposit any money every month for the Self Help Group seemed like an impossible thing under such circumstances,” Geeta Devi who now maintains the financial records of seven such Self Help Groups in the village, shared. Motivation by a local organisation about the long-term benefits of saving money, however, changed the mindset and the narrative in the village.


Mostly constituting farmers, Harnoo’s inhabitants were used to either taking loans or seeing others do the same by giving their jewelry or even their property as surety. “Then, when Shramik Bharati (a local organisation) told us about the concept of a Self Help Group and how it would help us, we wanted to give it a try,” Geeta said. Motivated through community mobilisation by WaterAid and Water.Org, the women were encouraged to start depositing INR 10 a month—a minimal amount just to inculcate the habit of saving money.


Soon the women realised that by depositing a small amount that does not pinch their budget, they were able to save enough in the group for a woman to take a loan for an urgent need. It could be for their farm, for a wedding, for medical treatment, for the education of their child, constructing their house—any need. “We realised that if one takes a loan from elsewhere, they have to pay a high-interest amount while with the Self Help Group, this is not the case,” Geeta said. As faith grew and the women saw that each deposit was carefully recorded, their trust in the SHG manifolded.


Geeta’s role as the bookkeeper of the SHGs, in this context, is crucial. She maintains all the financial records: of loans taken and installments repaid. “There are 10-20 members in each SHG and I am in charge of seven such SHG groups. We meet on the 25th of each month to discuss the problems faced by the women of every group and look for solutions through SHG loans,” she said.

“Women have taken loans up to Rs 1 lakh to buy cattle and make their families self-sufficient,” Geeta went on to say. Those among the women who were literate understood the benefits of being part of such a group sooner than the others, but as they shared their experiences with each other, all the women, collectively, felt that it was a wise choice to be a part of it. Today, Harnoo has six SHGs.

“We women are now more confident than ever before. Earlier some of us were hesitant to go to a bank, but now we go and open our accounts with confidence. We are managing the finances and running the SHG smoothly by ourselves,” she said, “The SHG has given us equal status as the men.”