The major livelihood of people living in the Dholka and Viramgam blocks of Ahmedabad District is agriculture and around 80 percent of people work as a farm labourer as they do not have sufficient resources to do their own farming. Most of the people usually work in big farmer’s farm. Due to poor financial condition to sustain their livelihood even children from the family had to do labour work in the fields.
Since 2009 Saath was running its Child Rights programme in these villages on the issue of child labour. After seeing the economic condition of the families in the villages Saath saw that there was a need to empower the rural women of these villages. Saath decided to do that by providing them access to financial support and guidance for sustainable livelihood opportunities. Also, a need to take the initiative was felt because of non-existence of any NGO or organizations working on microfinance institute in these particular areas.
Hence, with women at its focus, in January 2011, a process of saving and credit was initiated in Dholka and Viramgam, and its success lead to legally converted corporative institution 2012 named “Saath Women Savings and Credit Cooperative Society Ltd”. The Cooperative aims to create and increase awareness about credit and the habit of saving and providing loans at an affordable rate reaching out to areas where no banking facilities are available to improve the living standards of the people.
Today the cooperative is run in 47 villages with more than 2,600 women as its members. Its first Annual General Meeting (AGM) was organized on 13th Aug 2012, in which 800 women were present. The total amount of loan disbursed in the last year was Rs. 54,85,000. The Second AGM was organized on 20th of June 2013, in which financial year 2011-12’s working was reported and along with programme activities and challenges. As per the projections by the Cooperative team in the next two years more than 4,000 women will be a part of the initiative.
The First Annual General Meeting of the Cooperative
The Cooperative has helped many women for starting their own ventures for earning. Here’s the story of one of the member of the Cooperative:
Sheetalben, a resident of Dhakdi village is an active member of the Cooperative and saves Rs. 100 each month. She is present in all the meetings of the cooperative and has taken a loan of Rs. 15,000 from the Cooperative. She has opened a small ‘Pan Parlour’ and through it she is able to earn Rs. 5,000 per month. “I am thankful to Saath organisation for helping me in opening up my own business to support my family”, says Sheetalben.