Transforming Communities through Self-Help Groups for Women
“A few years back, ours was one of the poorest families in the village,” Madhu* shared. “I had to feed five children and my wife. Lack of skills made my life miserable.”
Untrained, illiterate, and at the bottom of the social ladder, poor families in India often feel hopeless. India is home to the highest number of poor in the world. How can a family that struggles to provide even one meal for their family ever dream of saving money for the future?
The answer from partner ministry CGAI? The power of Jesus Christ and strength in numbers. Through their women’s ministry, Mission to Women, they are seeing many Indian lives being transformed.
“Self-help groups are small groups where 15-20 women gather weekly and deposit their weekly savings,” the Mission to Women’s leader said. “We have started around 60 groups in three areas. We have viewed this as a good bridge-building exercise with the community and also to bring economic transformation.” Members within the group can apply for loans, which, when repaid, are loaned out to other members. Believers lead groups, and prayer is a part of every meeting.
When Madhu’s wife became a member of a self-help group started by Pastor U and his team, within six months, she had taken a loan of 1,000 rupees and started a small business. She and Madhu worked very hard and earned credibility in their village. They paid their loan back and borrowed 5,000 more rupees with which they started a wayside breakfast hotel in their village. They worked for five hours each morning to sell breakfast to the villagers and then did other jobs. They began to save money in the bank and soon bought two acres of land and four oxen.
Nearly 2,000 women participated in Mission To Women’s self-help groups last year, a blessing to them and their families. New groups are constantly being started, and CGAI provides support and training for the leaders. In addition to self-help groups, Mission to Women has also implemented programs in literacy, community health, vocational training, and Bible study.
“Within three years we have become respected in our community,” Madhu said. “I used to be a drunkard and wasted the small earnings I had. Now we are repaying all the loan installments regularly. I do not drink anymore, and God has blessed us mightily.”
*Name changed for security.