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What is a Self-Help Group?

A group of women in a village who come together to support one another. Every member saves a small amount of money at the group’s monthly meetings. Members can take loans from their pooled funds. These loans can be used to start micro-enterprises to boost their income. The groups can also obtain bank loans for their members on favourable terms. The micro-enterprises are typically backyard dairy cows, tea stalls or micro shops.

The groups are also a source of community strength with women campaigning against domestic violence and petitioning local authorities for village facilities such as safe drinking water. VST’s partners support self-help groups with more than 20,000 members. Each group is a member of a federation of groups with elected leaders. These federation leaders can start new groups, bolster weaker groups, run community enterprises, organise campaigns on issues including under-age marriage, alcohol abuse, and domestic violence, and employ their own staff, such as micro-enterprise advisers.

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