The SMART SHG Project – Sustainable Management to Achieve Social Responsibility using Technology and Training
March 1, 2021 –
Sandrine Bonin (Yamuna)
Creative Synergies Consulting Private Limited
Amrita Vishwa Vidyapeetham
Empowering Women through the SMART SHG Project
The primary objective of the SMART SHG project conducted by Amrita Vishwa Vidyapeetham(Amrita) and its Research Center for Women’s Empowerment and Gender Equality was toempower women's groups, particularly Self-Help Groups (SHGs), which have proven to be an effective and impactful approach for fostering sustainable gender equality within communities.This initiative aimed to yield social and economic benefits for the entire community.
The project's strategy involved several key steps, the first of which was to identify,through participatory methods, the most important needs for the target women in their current context,and set goals based on their aspirations mentored by livelihood experts. Based on this assessment, customised training programs were designed to enhance the women's socio- economic well-being. The curriculum included strengthening the functioning of SHGs by imparting capacity building training in collaboration, communication, and financial management. Additionally, participants were provided training in vocational skills, entrepreneurship development, and were encouraged to initiate small businesses collectively. This training also encompassed life skills, accounting, finance, data collection, and other vocational skills of their choice. Importantly, digital skills training was integrated into the program, where the critical role of technology in today's context, especially during pandemic situations, was emphasized.
The SMART SHG training was enhanced through concurrent vocational training programs implemented in Odisha, Kerala, and Haryana. In Odisha, participants of the SMART SHG program also engaged in a specialized training program focused on mushroom cultivation. In Kerala and Haryana respectively, SMART SHG participants were additionally enrolled in vocational training courses encompassing tailoring, embroidery, and beauty therapy. The value of integrating SMART SHG into vocational training was evident for various compelling reasons:
The value of integrating SMART SHG into vocational training was evident for various compelling reasons:
● Enhanced Financial Literacy and Entrepreneurship Skills: SMART SHG training
facilitated the development of financial literacy and entrepreneurship skills among participants. This empowered them to effectively manage group finances and generateincome through self-employment.
● Community Development and Economic Contribution: The SMART SHG training played a vital role in promoting community development. It enabled women to initiate small businesses, create employment opportunities, and contribute to the local economy. Many women reinvested their earnings into their communities, thereby fostering local economic development.
● Empowerment and Skill Enhancement: The SMART SHG training significantly bolstered participants' confidence, decision-making abilities, and leadership skills. These enhancements were crucial for leveraging their acquired vocational skills effectively.
● Promoting Women's Leadership: A fundamental aspect of the project was to encourage SHG leaders to take the lead, resulting in heightened self-awareness of responsibilities among participating SHG members.
● Fostering Social Inclusion: Through SMART SHG training, women from diverse social and economic backgrounds were brought together. This initiative fostered strong bonds and networks among the participants, mitigating social isolation and exclusion.
In summary, SMART SHG training equipped participants with essential skills, knowledge, and tools to enhance their financial literacy, entrepreneurship skills, and overall well-being. By empowering women, encouraging community development, and promoting social inclusion, SMART SHG training made meaningful contributions toward building a more equitable andsustainable society. The subsequent sections provide a breakdown of the impact in specific locations.